EFP 87: Building eCommerce Mini-Businesses (With StoreCoach’s Dave Hermansen)
Have you ever been interested in creating eCommerce websites? There’s no denying that eCommerce has been blowing up in popularity lately, but they’re definitely not as easy to setup as an AdSense site. You’ll want some guidance if you want to be successful in this space.
Introducing Dave Hermansen of Store Coach
Today, we’ve got Dave Hermansen from StoreCoach.com to join us and share his experiences. Dave is an eCommerce pioneer who specializes in niche eCommerce stores. He has created at least 60 high profit e-stores and sold several of them for well over $100,000, so he really knows what he’s talking about. Not only that, he’s built out this family business with his brothers:
If you want to know how to be successful in creating an eCommerce store then you have to listen to this one.
Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:
Topics Discussed This Week Include:
- The process for selecting a niche for your eCommerce store.
- How to gain traction and drive traffic to your store.
- The benefits of dropshipping vs sourcing your own goods.
- Judging the success of your store and deciding whether to keep pursuing.
- The typical profile of an eCommerce store owner.
- List Your Website on Our Marketplace!
- How to Sell Your Site With Us
- Dave Hermansen’s StoreCoach.com
- Andrew Youderian’s eCommerce Forum
- Dan Thies and Leslie Rohde’s Marketer’s Braintrust
- “If you do a great job with niche selection you don’t have to worry about major retailers when you’re doing drop shipping.” -Dave Hermansen – Tweet This!
Do you have any questions about eCommerce for Dave? Let us know on SpeakPipe or comment below!
Announcer: Welcome to the Empire Flippers Podcast. Are you sick and tired of gurus who have plenty of ideas but are short on substance, worried that eBook you bought for $17.95 won’t bring you the personal and financial freedom you long for? Hey, you’re not alone. Join thousands of others in their pursuit of niche profits without the bullshit. Straight from your hosts, Justin and Joe, from Empire Flippers.
Justin Cooke: Welcome to episode 87 of the Empire Builders Podcast. I’m your host, Justin Cooke, and I’m here with my business partner extraordinaire, Hot Money Joe Magnotti. What’s going on, Buddy?
Joe Magnotti: What is up, everybody?
Justin Cooke: Got a great episode, man. We’re talking to Dave Hermansen from storecoach.com. This guy has built out a ton of eCommerce sites, actually called mini businesses, and his story is fantastic. We’re gonna kind of like get into the back story but really kind of look at niche selection for him, some of the things he does differently than some of the other eCommerce guys out there. I think you’re really gonna dig it. Before we do that, let’s do some updates, news and info. First thing, we’ve got a new five-star iTunes review, Buddy.
Joe Magnotti: Hit me up, Man.
Justin Cooke: So here’s what he said, “Loads of information, fun to listen to. I usually listen while at the gym on this particular machine.” I’m not sure what machine that is, but a particular machine he uses. “Sure helps me get through exercising without even noticing the time go by. Joe and Justin keep coming up with interesting interviews, insights, and internet businesses, and also how they conduct their business. Well, I really appreciate that. That’s from N. Tenneman in the U.S. So thanks, man, I really appreciate that review.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, really appreciate that. Thank you.
Justin Cooke: Next thing, we’ve got a trip coming up, Buddy. So, you and I we’re doing a birthday bash. We’re leaving Davao, getting out of Davao on a jet plane, and we are going to Manila.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, your birthday’s on the 30th; mine’s on the 31st. Damien’s is on the 26th, so we’re making our combined average birthdays the 29th.
Justin Cooke: I don’t know, it needs to be the 30th, man, on my birthday. That’s how we should roll, but yeah, no, so we’re doing a birthday bash. We’re gonna go to Manila and then we’re all heading … It’s like a couple’s retreat, basically; it’s like six of us and we’re going out to Subic. We’re gonna do some swimming with the dolphins at the Ocean Park there. You know, hanging out on the beach drinking a few Sammy Lights and …
Joe Magnotti: The sunset, yeah that kind of thing.
Justin Cooke: The romantic getaway. Wow. We’re all coupled up, man, it’s crazy. All right, so we’re doing that. That will be really fun. If you’re gonna be in Manila this Thursday, I’ll actually be in town so make sure to reach out. You can just reach me on Twitter and I’ll give you a look up.
Another thing, we were actually looking to purchase a business recently. There was a listing on Flippa. It was called 49s.com was the site, and it was interesting because our thought with this was it was this kind of great drop-down business. It was, you pay 49 bucks a month and every month you get a new business idea kind of laid out for you. You could do like webinars with the people that actually kind of created the course and kind of set them through. Every month you get this new things, so we were really interested in this business. It’s kind of like a drop [inaudible 00:02:42] For people still looking for niche business ideas we thought this would be kind of a great introduction. This is for people like just starting out looking for a business, but what happened Joe? It didn’t end so well.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, I mean we did our due diligence, and we looked into it, and we really wanted to make a bid, but we wanted to talk to the guy. We messaged him; we tried to get ahold of him; we tried every which way, and we both signed up for an account and paid him the $49, too, which was not such a great idea. But, anyway, it seemed that, I don’t know, the guy disappeared and, you know, we’re asking for our money back and charging back, but yeah it just didn’t work out. It’s too bad because it would have been a perfect offer for our kind of intro people.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, it was a strategic purchase for us, right, so like there’s some revenue being claimed that we were a little unsure about, and we had decided that even if it makes zero dollars today it’s a good strategic purchase, because everything’s set up and working. It’s got really nice design, and I really like the concept. I think the concept is interesting. Even though I didn’t like some of the business ideas he had done previously, our plan was to go in there, gut it, and then recreate it with new business ideas. Anyway, looks like the guy disappeared. Our thought now was that he does the tricky thing where you put a listing on Flippa just to get yourself signups, so you get people signed up for your business or service.
Joe Magnotti: Especially because it’s recurring I think that he depends on people just kind of forgetting about their recurring signup.
Justin Cooke: It’s possible. I mean, that is a trick that people use. Especially, if you think about that people who are looking for business ideas, that’s the right audience. So, the people that are gonna to Flippa and looking to buy businesses and, you know, they’re kind of in that space, it does kind of make sense. If you try to do that with that, you know you sell soccer jerseys or something that’s not really, there’s no audience at Flippa that’s necessarily looking for soccer jerseys. It could be, man, it sucks. It’s too bad. I really wanted to buy it and I was really down to do it.
Joe Magnotti: But, I think the crutch of this argument is, if you guys see anything online that would be a good strategic purchase for us let us know, drop us a line, and we’re welcome to take a look.
Justin Cooke: Along those lines, we want to sell your site, so if you have a website that you’ve been kind of sitting on, that you’re no longer building out; maybe it’s a bit more passive for you now, and you’re investing or looking at other projects, we’d love to talk to you; we’d love to list your site for sale on Empire Flippers. Joe wanted to make sure I mentioned that. The sites under $10,000 they sell really, really quick. We just listed one and less than 12 hours for $8000 something, and we sold it within 12 hours.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, I’m pretty amazed about the under 10K area; it definitely goes very quickly. So, if you have all the paperwork in line and definitely validate traffic, a good, stable income then we can sell the site for you very quickly.
Justin Cooke: I’ll link to a post in the show notes where you can go with it, just walks you through step-by-step exactly how to sell your site with us. I’d say if your site’s in the $10,000-50,000, $60,000 range it can sell really quickly, too, but it’s gonna depend. So, if it’s much more specific, or specialized knowledge. We’re gonna have to find the right buyer, but if it’s relatively open and uses a common affiliate scheme, or it’s using Ad [inaudible 00:05:27], or something like that, there’s gonna be a much wider buying pool for you, so it’s much more likely to go quickly. All right, man, enough about that. Let’s get right to the heart of this week’s episode.
Announcer: This is the Empire Flippers Podcast.
Justin Cooke: All right today I’m really excited to have Dave Hermansen from storecoach.com on the show. He’s built an amazing business through Store Coach. Really he’s an eCommerce guy, so he’s built out tons of eCommerce stores, and he’s actually sold some of these stores for well over $100,000 through Flippa and other places. So, he’s a bit of an eCommerce pioneer specializing in niche stores. I thought it would be great to have him on the program. So, Dave, thanks for being with us, man.
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, thanks for having me, Justin. I’m excited.
Justin Cooke: So, let’s get into this. I actually found you through Angie Darien, someone in his forum was talking about a site you have for sale on Flippa, and saying it was a really interesting site; it was really good, and we should check it out. We’re talking a look and I was like, “Wow, this guy sells quite a few sites; He’s got some good-looking eCommerce stores. This is someone I want to talk to.” So, tell me, Dave, so how did you get into eCommerce? What was kind of your starting point? What was the impetus for getting you started?
Dave Hermansen: Well, to tell you the truth, I come from a very entrepreneurial-minded family. My dad owned several businesses and, actually, all of my brothers that are grown so far are all entrepreneurs, as well. So, it’s kind of in my blood. Even as a teenager I owned my own window-washing company. It’s just a mindset. The wheels are always turning. We’re always thinking of business ideas. So, it was kind of meant to be from the beginning. But, the way I specifically got into eCommerce, it’s actually kind of a long, somewhat boring story, so I’ll shorten it down for you. Basically, me and my younger brother were buying from college bookstores the books that were kind of discontinued, that weren’t being used by the professors anymore, but they were being used at other universities still. So, we were snagging those from the clearance bins for a couple bucks and then selling them for 20, 30, 40 dollars apiece.
I think the publishers kind of figured out what we were doing and they started buying them back from the bookstores. When that dried up we set to the web looking for how to buy at wholesale and sell at retail. That’s really what got us into eCommerce and internet marketing in general.
Justin Cooke: So college textbooks and you were, basically, a middleman, and you were leveraging the fact that they are available at one school and not another?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, we were basically just selling them on Amazon in between semesters when people were prepping for their upcoming classes. It was working really well. In fact, when we set to the web we were looking to wholesale books, naturally, because that’s what we had been making money from. Then we realized that we didn’t like that market, so we just started researching buying at wholesale and selling at retail on the internet period. Back then eCommerce was 11 years ago, so it’s not like eCommerce was brand new but it was nothing like it is today. It wasn’t a common household thing. People were still kind of leery about buying things online so it was just kind of in its early stages of growth.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, putting my credit card on the internet, what are you crazy! Back in those days. I remember, I did some drop shipping. I did some eBay sales back in like 2002, 2003 when I was in college, and it was really cool; it was really interesting. I sold some like Baby-G watches and some random like Chinese drills, some random items. Yeah, but that was a long time ago. So, it was probably similar time frame, 2002, 2003, 2004. Crazy. Okay, so, are you doing that with your brother?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, so … I mean now I’m partners with a couple of my brothers at Store Coach, but initially it was just me and my younger brother, and then he ended up … Our first couple stores, and you might want to talk about this in an upcoming question here so I don’t want to get into it too much, but our first couple of stores were kind of duds, and we kind of went our separate ways. He went and worked with his brother-in-law, and I kind of went solo for a while. But, now we’re, for the last four or five years here, we’re all working together again.
Justin Cooke: So, how do you go from … So, you had a few duds. Why do you think some of your early stores were duds? Looking back it’s much easier to tell, but what do you think happened there?
Dave Hermansen: Oh, yeah, it’s super easy to tell now. Well, there wasn’t a ton of really good information to educate yourself with; it was more kind of trial and error, and figure out what works and what doesn’t work. Not a lot of people are necessarily patient enough to go through 150 different failures to figure out what works. I mean, we got our hands on some decent eBooks back then, but for the most part we taught ourselves. Looking back at it the problem was we didn’t know anything about SEO. We didn’t know how to get traffic to our store.
Justin Cooke: I was a put a site up and hopefully they’ll come kind of thing?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, I mean really we didn’t have any idea what SEO even was. We thought all stores are created equal; you get traction by being there. Even back then that just wasn’t really the case.
Justin Cooke: God, do you look back at some of those days and go, “Oh, my god, what were we thinking?” Like, “We didn’t know anything. How did we even get a site up? I’m amazed that we were able to get started.”
Dave Hermansen: Yeah. They were ridiculously ugly Yahoo stores …
Justin Cooke: Oh, god, yeah.
Dave Hermansen: … and something kind of funny. Our first domain name, this is how dumb we were about just marketing in general and trying to get rank. Our domain name for our first store was something like rcradioremotecontrolcarsplanestrucksandmore.com.
Justin Cooke: Oh god.
Dave Hermansen: Because we thought, you know, we need to get our keywords in there, so we used the maximum number of characters we could use in a domain name, and it wouldn’t even fit on a single line; it was pretty ugly and ridiculous.
Justin Cooke: My buddy and business partner at the time we had a business called dealingforyou.com, and I don’t know what the hell that means. We were thinking we’re gonna help you find goods, and it was …
Dave Hermansen: It sounds like something illegal.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, I know, right, drug dealers or something. Yeah, it was like this really crappy kind of template. You could buy, it did have shopping cart … I don’t know, man, what a mess. Anyway, so you had these failures; you had some stores that were somewhat embarrassing looking back. When did it start to turn the corner? What time frame are we looking at?
Dave Hermansen: Well, I would say … So, we created our first couple stores in 2003, and we closed shop within six or eight months because it just wasn’t working. We were, basically, breaking even. We’d get a sale or two, and then by the time we paid our Yahoo store bill we were breaking even. Kevin, my younger brother, he had an opportunity to go work with his brother-in-law, who was more successful than us at the time, so he felt like he needed to take that. I came to the realization that, “You know what, I need to figure out how to get traffic to a website before I can have any real success with this.” I literally spent 12-16 months just learning SEO, just learning how to get a website ranked. Once I had that knowledge my very next stores just took off from the get go.
Justin Cooke: So, as soon you figured out SEO you realized how to get websites ranked for particular keywords. For us the light bulb was keyword research, like figuring out which keywords to target that we could actually get them ranked. It was just so eye opening. For us it was really important in our journey, I think. You’ve gone from hustling books, basically, from one university to another, building out some donkey stores that didn’t do very well, to building a bit of an empire. I mean, recently you’ve built out sites in the last couple of years that are selling for $100,000 plus, and it’s not like that’s one of your businesses; you have many of these. How many websites do you have right now?
Dave Hermansen: I don’t know how many websites we have, but we’re actually down to just three or four eCommerce stores at this point. We fluctuate a lot, and we’ve been focusing a lot on our pet project, Store Coach, like I mentioned before. But, yeah, we’ve had up to about 20 stores at any given time. I’ve kind of lost track now, but we’ve had a total of over 60 eCommerce stores that have been at least moderately successful.
Justin Cooke: Okay, so [inaudible 00:13:22] and we’ve been through this a bit before the show, but these are primarily drop-shipping stores, and you said one of the values there is that you’re able to run multiple stores. It’s not like where you’re sourcing the physical goods from China, or wherever, and warehousing it, and shipping it. It’s not all those extra moving parts. So, drop-shipping you’re able to kind of diversify a bit more with your sites. Let’s get into how you build some of these eCommerce drop-shipping sites. Niche selection is a big thing with any type of site you’re building or store that you’re building. What’s your process for niche selection? How do you pick out a niche you want to go after?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, it’s … Like you just said, it’s super important. The niche you start off with, and the supplier, the way you source your products. Having a reliable source that gives you adequate margins that’s key, and that’s setting you up for big-time success, or a moderate to low-end success.
Justin Cooke: Do you find the niche first or the supplier? Which do you think is the most important, and which do you go after first?
Dave Hermansen: We actually kind of go back and forth, sometimes. Now that we know so many good suppliers we can kind of work backwards in the niches and do our keyword research based on what’s available.
Justin Cooke: What they have, yeah. That makes … You can do it both ways, right?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, for sure. I would say our first couple dozen stores we found the niches first. If you’re determined to find a good supplier once you find a golden niche, you can make it happen if you stick with it and you’re persistent. Back in the day … We actually have our own in-house tool now. We named it Coaches Keyword Tool. Obviously, you can use any keyword tool that does something similar. But, what we do is we really look for a main phrase, a top niche phrase, that we can build an entire store around. What we look for is a phrase that’s kind of representative of an entire product line. For example bird cages. We’ve had a few different bird cage stores, and my very first really big success that I mentioned was a bird cage store. I should tell you that story when we get a chance.
So, we look for a phrase like that that gets 100+ exact match searches a day, you know, according to Google. Then, we look at the Page One Organic competition. We don’t really care about anything else. Because, eventually, even if you’re driving most of your traffic in sales initially from other means, eventually Google Organic is gonna be two-thirds of your sales and your profits. So, that’s really what we put the onus on when we’re looking at a niche phrase. We look at Page One competition; how tough it’s gonna be for us to get onto Page One. We really don’t care about results 11 to 10 million; all we care about are results 1 through 10.
Justin Cooke: It’s so funny, we’ve done the exact same thing we our niche [inaudible 00:16:06] site. It all comes down to a keyword that has enough exact search traffic to make it worthwhile. That is a first page that has some signs that we think we can make it to the first page. That’s what it all comes down to. So, it’s funny that’s very similar with drop shipping. When you’re building out these sites do you know that you have a winner on your hands, or is it like you build out a few and kind of see? Basically, are you all-in on a site; are you like, “We’re gonna make this work hell or high water?” Or, is it, “Let’s build three out and kind of see which one gets traction?”
Dave Hermansen: Well, people find this hard to believe but since our very, very first two stores … The first two stores were kind of duds. We didn’t know how to do keyword research upfront; we didn’t really know how to optimize them; we didn’t know how to get traffic to them. But, from store three through store 65 or whatever we’re at now, 100% success rate. If you do the keyword research upfront, and actually find a niche that you can succeed in, and then find a good supplier that you’re gonna be able to work with, every single store is at least low to moderate success.
Justin Cooke: Success in that it turns a profit, but some sites are gonna be wildly more successful than others because of the niche, or industry, or … Okay.
Dave Hermansen: We use baseball terminology. There’s a lot of singles and doubles but every once in while you get a home run.
Justin Cooke: So, you look for your primary key phrase in a niche? You’re looking for 3000 exact-match searches a month, or you said 100 a day. I know some people … My buddy does it that way, too, on the daily basis. So 3000 exact matches a month, or 100 a day. Do you look for secondaries or long tails? Like how do you determine, even if you’ve got one particular good keyword, how do you make sure that the niche overall is valuable? How do you go after secondary or long tail keywords?
Dave Hermansen: Well, we kind of do this backwards, too, and I guess you could just say we’re backwards in general. But, we don’t follow the average training; we kind of taught ourselves and figured things out as we went. So, the way we do it is we find a phrase or two, maybe three at the most that are all representative of a niche. For example bird cages and parrot cages, the singular and plural of both of these phrases. You’ve really got two, or four, phrases depending on how you look at it. Then, we intentionally do not do keyword research upfront period, because we want our website to be built for our users. If we know 15 or 30 different phrases we want to be optimized for we’re gonna unintentionally over-optimize every page that we optimize. So, we focus on category structure, and we focus on usability for the actual visitors to our site.
Then, once we have our basic store built out, we have our catalog in place, and we’re ready to add a couple articles and get some good content in there, at that point, kind of towards the backend, we’ll do full-blown keyword research, try to find at least a dozen to two dozen longer keyword phrases we can build around. Then, we just simply implement those keyword phrases according to the pages that make the most sense to implement them on.
Justin Cooke: Got you. So, just to make sure I got it right, so you’re targeting two of the keywords, has 3000 exact match searches a month, or better, and obviously in a niche. You have the supplier that meets the demand, they can deliver for you at a reasonable margin. You built out the site and you focus on usability and structure. You’re not so worried about content marketing to start; you want to make sure that people can functionally go and purchase what they need to and it kind of makes sense. Then you go back and you add content around the secondary keyword research that you do at that point, after the site has already been set up? Is that about right?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah.
Justin Cooke: All right, so that’s cool. You mentioned this before about two-thirds of your traffic, or so, is gonna come organically. This is generally through these long tail phrases. Some of them are unintentional, right, someone’s searching for a particular brand name, whatever. Do you put content on your product pages? Where do you source that content from? How does that work exactly?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, we actually kind of have a rule that every non-product page needs to have at least 400 words of totally unique hand-written content, and then product pages, depending on how big your catalog is, we usually try to focus on smaller catalogs that are more manageable, and that we can actually have a good amount of content written for them. But, generally we even put 400 plus words on our product pages, as well, with the exception of one of our stores right now is close to 1000 products and at this point we only have like 150 words per page. But, we outsource all of it, as far as the content writing goes. Writing that much content, it sucks, it sucks.
Justin Cooke: That’s for sure.
Dave Hermansen: It’s awful.
Justin Cooke: Who do source your content from? Is there like a particular place?
Dave Hermansen: Well, we actually have our own content service at this point, so we just have it all written by our service now, but back in the day before we had that, we would like, basically, just find writers to hire. So, we’d find people on Craigslist, or Elance, or whatever, and just try to find people that could write well in English.
Justin Cooke: We’ve done some of that, too. We found people initially on Fiverr, or other places. We’ve used some services like iWriter and [Textbook 00:20:58], and that kind of thing. We found that we didn’t want to actually employ those writers, so we ended up hiring content managers. These people would order from other writers, and they could use, basically, whoever they wanted, but they are responsible for editing, and uploading that content. Do you ever use the same, like generally same, written content on a page, or is it always, 100% always, unique for products?
Dave Hermansen: Well, actually I have a story about that, and kind of a warning for people. The store that I was talking about that has almost 1000 products in it, we were sitting on that domain for a couple of years not … Basically, we had an opportunity to buy a good, aged domain name that had good page range, and good authority, so we bought it and then we weren’t able to work on it for a year or two; we were too busy. Last summer when we started repurposing it, and turning it into a specific store, we didn’t even want to manage having a 1000 product descriptions written let alone write them ourselves. What we did was we wrote one really well-written 500 word product description and then we used the concatenate feature inside of Excel to, basically, replace specific words throughout the content.
Justin Cooke: Spinning, yeah you were spinning.
Dave Hermansen: Not intentionally but, in hindsight it looked like spun content. We went from 250 or 300 unique Google referrals a day to like five, like overnight.
Justin Cooke: So, yeah, they caught you out. It’s funny to me, and my business partner has asked me this. Like, let’s say that we had a sight that was around, just for whatever reason, Applebee’s, like an Applebee store locator, and we had a different page for every Applebee’s that’s out there. Obviously, the address is gonna be different but the store hours, like a bunch of the information like about kind of the restaurant in general, it has to be unique. It seems weird to me. Like, why couldn’t that be the same for every store location with the pertinent details changed? Doesn’t that seem crazy to you? Have you just tried to straight up copy content like that? I mean, obviously, spun stuff like Google’s pretty good at catching that now … Do you have any that’s copied because it just kind of makes sense, it’s the best thing to do?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, honestly, I think Google’s still trying to figure that out, what they’re okay with. Because, clearly they don’t like duplicate content. I think that duplicate content is way over hyped, and I don’t think you’ll actually get penalized for duplicate content, especially internal duplicate content from page to page within your own site. Obviously, duplicate … We would have been better off writing a single product description using it for all 950 products. That would have hurt us a lot less, and possibly not at all.
Justin Cooke: The other stuff looks tricky, right?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, it’s shady.
Justin Cooke: Or the spammers, right? Obviously, your not spamming but if you’re using the same tactic as them, you could end up falling into the boat. Let’s switch gears a little bit. We talked about drop-shipping versus sourcing, and some of the guys that we know that do eCommerce a lot, one of the reasons they like to source their own goods is they control the quality of the product, and they also have a bit more margin, so they feel like they have a better shot with paid traffic if they source it themselves and they’re getting let’s say 30-40% margins versus a 10-15% they might get with drop-shipping. What are your thoughts on drop-shipping versus sourcing, and fulfillment and that kind of thing?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, I mean we’ve done it all. We currently have a store that we buy in bulk and we use a fulfillment center to fulfill orders, and we’ve had items drop-shipped from China. In fact, we’ve had our own brand names of products made overseas and brought them in on containers and warehoused them ourselves. For the most part we use drop-shipping, and that’s really just because we’ve always kind of focused on small specialty shops. When you have to actually buy in bulk and inventory products you just tend to have to give more time and attention to those stores. So, if you’re gonna buy in bulk, or do your own brand name, or any of that, I would plan on it being one of my main focuses. Whereas, with us with a niche specialty drop-ship-based store we can have a dozen or 15 of them and run them relatively easily. So, they all have their pros and their cons. It just kind of depends on what you want to do for yourself.
Justin Cooke: One of the things I love about what you guys are doing, Dave, is the fact that you guys are so like process driven, and it’s not about the particular store itself. I can really relate to that. I mean, we have a team here and … We view our USP as being that engine, right it’s the engine, and we can put multiple things into it, it matters a bit less. But it has to fit our model or else we don’t do it. It sounds so much you, like you could go off on this, “I want to design a lawn chair,” or something, and you go on this long journey to like explore what kind of lawn chairs are best, and get feedback, but like that just doesn’t fit into your model, so you guys don’t focus on that.
Dave Hermansen: Right.
Justin Cooke: How do you know when a site is kicking in, like when you should put more effort, or time, or energy into a site versus one that you shouldn’t?
Dave Hermansen: Well, like I said before, all of our stores are successful to a certain extent, and I don’t want that to sound big-headed or cocky. I mean, you have to find a good niche and find a good supplier. So, there’s 10 or 15 potential niche ideas that never make it past that phase; they never make it past the good supplier, good keyword phrase competition-wise phase. So, really, we put all of our stores through the same exact process, and they all get to the point where they have paid advertising going for them, Google, PLA listings going for them. They’re getting Organic traffic. A lot of times we’ll actually buy an aged domain name that’s already out there and ranking pretty well, so we can skip that first six to 12 months of actually trying to get traction.
Justin Cooke: Okay, cool. So, a lot of people do that with Amazon sites, as well, where they’re buying aged domains, and they’re getting that SEO value or benefit, and they’re able to get ranked quicker, faster, and potentially better, because they’ve already got a nice backlink profile, and an aged domain that’s got a better page rank, or whatever. There are sites that, I think … Let’s say you have one store that’s making, I don’t know, 500, 600 bucks a month net; you have another one that’s making 3500 a month net. Obviously, one’s gonna be more worth your time than the other. Is that how it comes down to? So, if you start a site, do you have like a review period, six months, 12 months, where you say, “Okay, we’re gonna continue to expand, or we’re going let it blow for a bit.” How does that work? How do you determine which ones to spend your time on?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, we kind of split the whole eCommerce store thing into two phases. The first phase is the build-out phase and it’s really just the building and the startup, the launch of the store, which is usually about 90 days from inception to the point where you’re ready to start some paid advertising and start analyzing your conversation rate and that type of thing. Then, phase two is just kind of the scale-up, maximize, put on auto pilot phase. So, yeah, like you said, the stores are making a few thousand a month plus by three, four months in, those are definitely gonna get more attention, and if the margins are good we try out every paid advertising option available to us, even if half of them break even or lose money and we don’t continue to do them. We’re gonna try out everything and just see what’s profitable. Whatever’s profitable we keep going, we scale up as much as we can. But, like you said, the stores that seem kind of tapped out at $1500, $2500 in profit, those ones can just kind of be sat on; they can just kind of be put on autopilot.
Justin Cooke: Is that the point that you sell them? When do you determine the site is ready to be sold, or you’re ready to sell the site and move on to something else?
Dave Hermansen: Well, hopefully here soon we’ll wise up and we’ll stop selling stores period.
Justin Cooke: Hang on to them a bit.
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, because I mean, when we think about how much money we’d be making a month from the 60 plus stores we’ve built, if we would have just created a team and just actually had customer service outsourced, and had all that stuff running, it’s absurd how much money we’d be making a month.
Justin Cooke: We’ve had some of the people that they buy sites and they go, “I can’t believe people are selling sites.” Then, you have sellers, though, but that’s a totally different market. There are sellers on the other hand they go, “I’m absolutely cashing out on the site. I don’t want to do any more work. I just want to move onto something else.” It’s funny; it depends on where you’re coming from. I hear what you’re saying, though. I mean, you’ve got these sites that if you just built people up to run them rather than sell them there is a break-even point at which you would have been like, “Now I’m in the profit on that sale, like it’s just gravy from here on out.” So, have you sold sites in the past as kind of to push the cashflow forward so that you can invest in more sites? Was that kind of the goal?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, well, I mean … Yeah, what you were saying makes a lot of sense. It kind of depends on your personality and whether that store was your baby, or whether it’s one that you pushed through production line.
Justin Cooke: Engine.
Dave Hermansen: So, it really depends on where you’re coming from. You can get a very good person here in the States. For a 30-hour a week person for $10, $12 an hour you can get somebody for less than $1000 a month to run a store completely for you. So, anything above $1000 in profit a month is just passive income for you if you do that. We wish we would have done that with most of the stores that we’ve had. But, we get bored with projects. We love startup and development of projects, so when it gets to the like, “Okay, this site’s making really good money; I’m really sick of it; I’m really bored with this product line, I want to move onto to something else. Let’s cash out and do an exciting new project.” Probably not the best business decision, but that’s kind of been the mentality. Probably the second half of the stores we’ve sold have been for capital for Store Coach. We’ve put so much time and money into Store Coach. It’s kind of our baby.
Justin Cooke: I don’t hate the idea of selling when you just feel like you’re ready to move on. I mean, there’s a whole bunch of reasons that you can sell, I think that are totally reasonable, and if you feel ready to move on it might be a good time to sell, because you’re not gonna be putting effort or energy into it. Maybe you have other projects that you’d just rather focus on. If you’re not gonna be building that business you might as well hand it on to someone else who is really excited and can step in and within six months get 30-50% boost because they are so focused on it and really building it out. I don’t hate that at all.
Dave Hermansen: For sure. In fact, we’ve actually bought stores for quite a bit of money. So, we’ve been on both sides of that. Oh yeah, I definitely agree with you. I mean [crosstalk 00:31:28]
Justin Cooke: You buy your new baby and you’re like, “Oh, this is my new project. I’m gonna be rolling this out,” and you get kind of excited about it and you got ideas, right?
Dave Hermansen: Yep, oh yeah.
Justin Cooke: Tell me about the profile, or kind of the avatar of an eCommerce business owner. You know, there are some people that they really like shipping physical goods and the idea of eBooks, or videos that doesn’t appeal to them. So, I mean, an eCommerce, I think, approach could be interesting. But, is there anything that kind of ties an eCommerce store owner together, or is it just across the board totally buried?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, I mean you’re gonna find a lot of different personalities. I mean, what appealed to me was I really liked the idea of actually selling products, and actually having … I mean, I’ve always kind of visualized having a local Brick and Mortar kind of store, a specialty shop, you know a wine shop, espresso machine shop, or something like that. But, in all actuality it’s just a pain when I actually do it. I’ve actually done a couple of storefronts. I like to cyber own [crosstalk 00:32:30] properties.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, it’s like this romanticized, “I walk to the door, put my key in, and this is kind of my place. It’s got, you know, this is my Brick and Mortar business.” But, realistically, and especially people in our audience that are expat entrepreneurs that travel a bit, an eCommerce store makes a hell of a lot more sense than some local … I actually know a guy who set up a local business here in Davao, in the Philippines, and it was a tea shop and him and his girlfriend were running it, and they were there regularly, this tea shop. He had the same idea like he really wanted a local business. It’s a totally separate topic, but doing local business in the Philippines is a scary proposition. But, I’d say doing local business overall is, if that’s really what you want to do you can, but an online business seems to make so much sense.
Dave Hermansen: Oh, it’s so much higher risk to do a Brick and Mortar for one thing.
Justin Cooke: The costs can be really high.
Dave Hermansen: Oh yeah. I mean, if I were to open just a little place, just a little lease spot, here locally, it would be at least $30,000 to get going. I can start an eCommerce store selling the exact same product line for a couple hundred bucks, total startup cost.
Justin Cooke: You know, I think, though, that’s an interesting point, and I think one of the draws, obviously, to online businesses are like, “Oh, I’ve got 500 bucks. I can start a business.” I think what you’ve done differently, and I think people that are looking in this direction need to keep in mind, is that even though it only costs you a couple hundred dollars, whatever, there’s a lot of thought, time, and effort, and energy that goes into picking niches, into having a business rollout. In the engine or team that you have you put a lot of time, effort, energy into, and maybe it wasn’t exact dollars, it probably was to some extent, but it was a hell of a lot of setting up your business. I think it’s not just, “I’m gonna throw up a couple of sites and just that’s my business.” No, you need to take a business mindset or a business approach even to your eCommerce stores, even to your niche affiliate sites. That’s where a lot of people, I think, go wrong is that it’s kind of a side gig, or hustle, and not an actual business.
It being a business for you, I mean that project involved your brothers; you have a bunch of other people that are involved with your team that are helping you build out the Store Coach, and some of the other businesses. So, let’s get into the Store Coach a little bit. So, I looked at this and I thought it was pretty interesting. It seemed to be that you are kind of a … This is kind of James Schramko, he calls it The Chocolate Wheel. So, someone’s interested in eCommerce you offer them a bunch of different pieces. So, if they need help picking a niche, you help them pick a niche. They need help setting up a U.S. LLC, you help them set up LLC. Setting up a store, you help them set a store. So, you’re there all along the way for different pieces of it that they need. How did you come up with this? Why did you go from just running stores to actually building a Store Coach?
Dave Hermansen: It is exactly what you described. I mean, it’s basically the exact step-by-step phase-based process that we’ve been using for eight plus years now. Really, we just put that into a website, a user interface that people can come and put our process to work for them. The way it came to be was when we sold … My very first really successful, well, my very first store after those first two duds, after I learned SEO, it was a store called Everything Birds. It literally went from like nothing to making $100,000 in profit it’s first year of existence. So, I just immediately, right out of the gate, I bought an aged domain name; I bought it for $1800 dollars, and right out of the gate I was making four or five thousand dollars a month just because of the authority and the rankings it already had. One of my brothers joined me. We started doing additional stores, and we just kind of refined that process that I had kind of come up with when I created the Everything Birds store.
Then, we eventually were asked to partner with a couple other guys to do a series of eCommerce training programs. We taught our basic process during those eCommerce training programs, but it was kind of typical digital product where it was a one-off thing. You bought it and you were done. [crosstalk 00:36:51]
Justin Cooke: That’s pretty [crosstalk 00:36:52] if I remember right, too. That’s pretty [inaudible 00:36:55] marketing.
Dave Hermansen: So, we didn’t really like that approach. We didn’t really feel like we were really truly helping people all the way through the process, and we didn’t really feel like people were able to grasp everything and kind of learned at their own pace. That’s when the vision of Store Coach came to be. The entire Store Coach website is built based on our seven phases that we take from start to profitability. So, that’s kind of how it came to be.
Justin Cooke: I’ve got to ask you, Dave. So, we’ve talked a lot about partnerships, and we’ve had other people on the show that are in partnerships. We always say half jokingly that you should be very wary of partnering in general because why not just own it. You can, obviously hire employees; you can pay contractors. I think a lot of people, especially younger guys and gals, get started because it’s less scary to partner something, like you’re kind of in it together, which isn’t probably the best way to go about building a partnership. But you have partnered with your brothers. Joe is like my brother, right, and we fight and argue. I think we have an overall valuable partnership, and we help balance each other out a bit. We help each other grow and grow the business. But, it gets pretty rough. I mean, there are times where it’s not good; it’s really not good. I’d imagine with your brothers that can get a little rough, as well. The addition of family makes it even scarier. Have you found that to be a pretty good experience overall?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, luckily we’re super tight-knit. We’ve always been super close, and we do argue daily. I mean, we have two-hour awkward argumentative conversations on Skype almost every day. But, all-in-all, our strengths and weaknesses really, we really mesh well together but, yeah, I tell people, friends and family that are interested in getting into any type of internet marketing just to be extremely careful, leery about … I think people should get a certain amount of education on what they’re gonna do, and get a certain amount of expertise before they partner with somebody else with a different expertise. I think joining each other in the beginning and trying to learn it together/build it together is where a lot of the conflicts and problems [crosstalk 00:39:11]
Justin Cooke: I totally agree. So, if you get started on your own you’re gonna figure out like it’s gonna come along what your strengths are, and you’re gonna find that out. Then, if there are other people doing that, as well, you can look for a partner strategically and not out of either desperation or fear of going it alone. You’re doing it from a strategic like, “Let’s do one plus one equals four kind of partnerships.”
Dave Hermansen: Right, it’s more of a business decision versus like, “Let’s take this on together. We don’t have any idea what we’re getting into.”
Justin Cooke: So, I got to tell you, and this is backing up a bit. I want to get back to Store Coach. But in thinking about … You might have seen these guys in the news a while back, but they had done like, I don’t know, a hundred million dollars last year, or something, and they had set up call centers, and they were very individual product focus, and they would sell all these ton of websites. They were a very large organization, one that you’ve never even heard of, and they had all these call centers set up to sell their products. They would start a product; if it didn’t work out, if it didn’t hit their certain metrics, then they would dump it and they’d start new ones. But, they were absolutely crushing it. That seems to be a kind of a similar approach to what you’re doing.
They’re doing it at a very large scale, but it seems like that same approach can be done on a smaller scale, and a medium-sized business scale, which is what you’re doing. It’s cool to see. I think it would interesting for us, and others to kind of watch your growth over the next few years, especially as you build out Store Coach. How do you avoid Amazon? Is Amazon like the elephant in the room? Are you worried about them like coming in and squashing like whatever products that you’re offering in your niche stores, or have you found a way to avoid that being a concern?
Dave Hermansen: Well, I would kind of say we can’t beat them so we join them in a lot of ways. I mean, some of our most successful stores also had Amazon web stores with our store band there, with our store branding there, and that actually brings a fair amount of traffic to our web store, as well. But, part of us looking at competition initially is looking at the bigger two or three kind of dominant retail websites and seeing how good of a selection they have.
One thing that a lot of people don’t realize is Amazon themselves, even though they have thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of SKUs, they don’t have great selections of most niche product lines. You’ll see a lot of Amazon pages come up in results, but those are just sellers like you that have listed their products on Amazon. Their fees are high enough … They pay 10-15% to Amazon, so generally they have to mark their prices up enough to where you can easily beat them. So, most of the time if you do a good job with your niche selection you don’t really have to worry about the major online retailers like Amazon.
Justin Cooke: When you’re doing [inaudible 00:41:54], do you look for MAP pricing?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, we like MAP pricing, and I don’t know, will your listeners know what MAP pricing is?
Justin Cooke: A bit. We’ve talked about it a bit. Why don’t you explain it briefly and then tell us kind of like is that … so MAP pricing is, basically, where the manufacturer sets a price that every retailer has to sell at, so you’re gonna have to sell this, or can you be above that pricing, or no?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah. You can be above it.
Justin Cooke: [crosstalk 00:42:19]
Dave Hermansen: So it’s …
Justin Cooke: So, it’s this or better.
Dave Hermansen: Minimum advertised price.
Justin Cooke: If they’re not selling at that then they can take you off their program; they can no longer supply you with the goods to sell. So, it’s basically a way to keep prices from, their retailers from, undercutting each other and driving the price down lower. So, do you look for that? Is that a requirement for your drop-shipping sites, or is it kind of like a nice-to-have but not needed?
Dave Hermansen: It’s a bonus when the brand name has MAP on it, but it’s not a requirement. In fact, our most successful store right now it earns … Well, it varies a lot depending on the season, but it has 10,000 plus profit months and it’s only seven, eight months old, but it doesn’t have MAP. So, it’s definitely not a requirement, but when you mentioned earlier the margins, the 10-15% on a typical drop-ship product line, we look for more like 30+% on drop-ship products. So, it can be found. One of the biggest problems with drop-shipping is they are so many middlemen wholesalers. They’re not the manufacturer; they’re not even a distributor that buys from the manufacturer; they’re somebody that buys from the distributor and tries to sell it to retailers. It’s been marked up three or four times before you even get it, and that’s why you see that.
Justin Cooke: They call themselves a drop-shipper, and they’ve actually bought from a bigger person calling themselves a drop-shipper and they’re not … It’s ridiculous, yeah. There’s a ton of middlemen in there trying to squeeze their piece, trying to get a piece on the arbitrage. Maybe they have better marketing, or branding, or messaging, so they can get the word out there. “Hey, we’re drop-shippers, go with us.” Really they’re just middlemen. All right. Okay.
I think we’ve done quite a bit on the eCommerce stores, let’s go back to Store Coach. Tell me about the people that you have as members. I know that a lot of stuff that you offer there is free; it’s freely available, and then some of it is like on the pro. Who joins? Who comes to you? Are they brand new? Do they have larger eCommerce stores? Where are they at?
Dave Hermansen: We get a huge range of people. I mean, we get people that barely know how to check email and Facebook all the way up to people that already have a successful network of eCommerce sites. So, our goal is to be the number one portal for eCommerce education, regardless of where you’re at knowledge wise, experience wise. So, people that are brand new they join, they go all the way from the training, every video, every tutorial from the beginning. But we also have people join that already have a dozen successful stores, and they’re just trying to figure out how to increase their conversion rate, how to do a better job outsourcing, how to build their machine, how to build their line that they can put new stores through.
Justin Cooke: God, Dave, you’re talking about people that can’t do email, can’t do Facebook. Oh my god, that must be a bear to work with on your end, man. You get people that are like, “I want to build a business online. I just signed up for a Yahoo email account. You can help me?” So, basically, do you give them like some kind of like reading materials they got to go through to get at least kind of up to speed with how the internets work?
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, well those are the kind of folks that we say, “We want you to go through every video and every tutorial and take notes and go all the way through the training course, and then start over before you even think about taking any action, because you need to get a certain amount of education under your belt before you try to do anything.”
Justin Cooke: You mentioned some the experienced people that come that have an eCommerce store, or they have a couple, and they’re looking for how to convert better. It seems like conversion rate optimization is a huge piece, or part, of eCommerce businesses, just online businesses in general. So, do you have like a conversion rate optimization guy on staff? Have you been forced to kind of pick that up yourself? How do you handle that on your businesses?
Dave Hermansen: Well, I’ve kind of become an expert on overhauling stores and conversion rates just kind of naturally just because of doing it all from every angle and doing it for so long. But, it’s kind of become my specialty to snag under-performing, under utilized, domains and web shops and then beef them up. You know, quickly increase the traffic, quickly increase the conversion rate. So, we have a ton of good information on split testing. We teach a lot about usability, how user friendly a site is, and structure and architecture, and all that type of stuff. We have over 1000 tutorials and hundreds of videos. If it’s related to eCommerce we have some serious information about it.
Justin Cooke: Well, teaching it forces you to learn about it, too, right. You don’t want to be handing out bad information, so it makes you go through and go, “Okay, am I sure about this? Let me read up on this a little bit.” I know. I feel you, I feel you there. So, you’re building out Store Coach. You’ve got your eCommerce. You’re doing some buying and selling of eCommerce stores. You’re selling some of your own eCommerce stores, and you’ve got that going on in the backend. I think your brothers might take care of that. Along with your brothers you’re running Store Coach. What’s the goal with Store Coach? I mean you do kind of offer the smorgasbord for people that need a piece of the process done for them, or they’re at their early level to late level in learning about eCommerce. Where do you want to take the business? Where do you see kind of your growth strategy for Store Coach over the next two to three to five years?
Dave Hermansen: Well, to be totally honest, and this is gonna sound kind of cheesy, but it’s really more to help people; it’s really more to educate people, because it was super frustrating being an entrepreneur that wanted to create a successful eCommerce store, the lack of information and the conflicting reports from the “gurus,” in the realm of eCommerce. So, I mean, it’s kind of a pet project; it’s kind of a vision of ours. Obviously, we want to brand it, and we want to grow it and all that, but we just want to be number one; we just want to be the go to place. We’ve set it out to where there’s a checklist built in to every account, and you can create as many checklists as you want, and each one of your stores has it’s own unique checklist. It, basically, just keeps you accountable.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, I saw those.
Dave Hermansen: It makes you go through the steps and forces you to create a profitable store.
Justin Cooke: I saw those, Dave. God, Store Coach seems like a lot of work, man. You guys put a lot of money into that, didn’t you?
Dave Hermansen: Oh yeah, over $100,000 just in programming costs at this point.
Justin Cooke: God, see. Dave, we’re looking at a redesign right now for Empire Flippers, and we’re looking to improve the marketplace. We want it to be sexy; we want it to be good, and we’re just … Not only the money, but like the work, we’re like, “Oh, my god, this will be so much work,” and the feedback loop, and iteration.
Dave Hermansen: Oh, it’s huge.
Justin Cooke: How long have you been working on Store Coach?
Dave Hermansen: Probably about three years. I’d say three years of beta now.
Justin Cooke: Three years of beta. You’re pulling the G-mail approach here. Invite your friends, whatever. So, okay, still in three to five years. I understand that you want to help people, and legitimately want to help people, but you’ve got to have … You’re an entrepreneur, man, you’ve got to have some kind of goal; you’ve got to have something that you would say, “This is really working.” So, you’re saying you want to be the number one resource for people that are learning, or trying to expand their eCommerce stores. If you did that you’d be crushing it, because that’s a pretty decent-sized niche.
So, let’s talk about someone that wants to get started with eCommerce. They kind of dig your model; they want to start testing the waters. What kind of actionable tips could you give someone that’s just getting started with eCommerce. Let’s say they have some experience with internet marketing, with key word research, but they want to specially start with eCommerce. Where would you send them?
Dave Hermansen: That was the first thing I was gonna say was get a certain amount of education, because I always feel like I need to tell people to get educated about the topic before they take any action, or give anybody any money, because there’s so much information now that you can get on the topic. I mean, like you said before, as a guest on Store Coach, you can go through all the videos and all the tutorials for the most part. I mean, there’s certain sections that are locked off to pro members only, but you can get very educated for free. So, that’s the first step for people. But, then, like we mentioned before, it’s all about niche selection and finding the right supplier. So, if you’re serious about starting your own eCommerce store, that’s where it starts, and that’s our first phase is choosing a winning niche, because that’s where it all begins. In our first phase we focus on ways to brainstorm niche ideas, ways to come up with keyword phrases. Our tool, you can put in a single word and it’ll give you a 100 plus different keyword phrases, ideas.
So, that’s where it begins and, then really, if once you’re able to land a good source for your product it’s all rolling for you after that. It’ll just snowball for you after that. If you get a good niche and a good supplier you’re golden, you just have to follow the rest of the steps.
Justin Cooke: Dave, what you’re doing reminds me a little bit of, I’m not sure if you’re heard these guys before but The Challenge, Ed Dale’s The Challenge. He would teach, basically, how to get a niche site up and running in the next 30 days or less, and I like it because a lot of your information that you’re handing out there is free, and we’re big proponents of free. We like the free info route, and then we have products and services and, obviously, help people buy and sell sites. It’s kind of around it. We take the approach of, if you have lots of time and very little money, okay well here’s exactly how you can do this for free, on your own. It will be a lot of work. If you’ve got lots of money and no time, well here you can buy your way in by doing this, that, or the other. That seems to be like an approach that like you can really … It’s like the high ground, right. You can really stand behind that, and people are really comfortable with that approach, as well, it seems.
Dave Hermansen: That’s exactly what we’re doing. I mean, everything we create at Store Coach we’re determined to show people how to do it themselves for free and offer a route where they can pay to have it done, whether it’s us offering it or somebody we’ve used and recommend. So, absolutely everything we present is, “Here’s how to do it yourself. Feel free to do it yourself,” and “Here’s how to outsource it, and here’s the best place to outsource that specific task.”
Justin Cooke: We also talk about competition is being like coopertition, right, like there are competitors out there that, I think, are good and quality and it’s good sometimes to work together and kind of like blend in together, like help each other grow. What other eCommerce resources, aside from yourself, are out there that you think are valuable that people could check into, as well.
Dave Hermansen: You mean like specific people or?
Justin Cooke: Yeah, bloggers-
Dave Hermansen: [crosstalk 00:52:50] products.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, bloggers, or site builders, or someone out there talking about it, doing eCommerce stores?
Dave Hermansen: Well, not so much eCommerce, but the Marketing Brain Trust guys. I don’t know if you’re familiar with them.
Justin Cooke: Yeah, no.
Dave Hermansen: They’re absolutely amazing when it comes to SEO and marketing, for any sort of website.
Justin Cooke: What’s their website?
Dave Hermansen: It used to be SEObraintrust.com but I think they just changed to marketersbraintrust.com, because of the whole SEO dying thing. But, yeah, I’ve been learning how to market a website and SEO from them for a decade. So, I mean they’re the real deal. It’s run by Leslie Rohde and Dan Thies are the creators. They’re the original SEOs. They’re the nerd types that really understand the algorithm.
Justin Cooke: The old school guys.
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, and they basically teach how to market a business so it gets ranked naturally and gets links naturally without manual link building or spamming, or tricking Google. So, they’re pretty awesome.
Justin Cooke: I got to say, I really like what you’re doing over at Store Coach. I think it’s really interesting. I feel like your approach to business in general is very similar to ours. We have some similar mindsets, I think, in how we’re going about doing things. So, that’s really cool. I’m sure that our audience is gonna appreciate it. Dave, if someone wants to reach out to you; they want to get in touch with you, where can they go to do that?
Dave Hermansen: Just storecoach.com. In fact, we in anticipation for being on your podcast, we created a page just for your listeners, storecoach.com/empireflippers.
Justin Cooke: Cool, and you’re giving them a month free, a month of pro training free.
Dave Hermansen: Right.
Justin Cooke: So, if they want to get in there, check it out, and kind of get a feel for how you guys are working, what’s going on there, they can check it out and sign up. I’d encourage them to do that. I got to tell you, Dave, it’s been fantastic having you on the show. I really appreciate it. Also, I’d love to talk to you again soon. There’s some other things I’d like to get into with you that I think would be pretty interesting for our audience and for the industry in general. Anyway, man, I really appreciate having you on. Thanks so much.
Dave Hermansen: Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me.
Justin Cooke: All right, now we’ll get into our tips, tricks, and plans for the future.
Announcer: You are listening to the Empire Flippers Podcast with Justin and Joe.
Justin Cooke: So, our tip for you this week is actually a product called Lucidchart, it’s a website called lucidchart.com. Funny thing is it helps you out with a bunch of things. So, if you want to design your org charts, or you’re wanting to do wireframes for project it’s a fantastic tool.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, it’s kind of funny that we found this independently. You were working on some wireframes, and I needed to do some org charts for the [inaudible 00:55:26] Company for the sale, and we both started using the same piece of software and then I saw the charge on the credit card, “I’m like, wait, I didn’t pay for that.”
Justin Cooke: Oh yeah, we talked about this just 20 minutes ago, or whatever. Joe’s like, “I have a free trial, how is this coming out of our account as being paid?” He’s like, “Oh, you signed up for it?” “Yeah, man, yeah, yeah.” So, we’re using it separately. I guess we consolidated that to one account now.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, so if you guys have any need for org charts, wireframes, they do a bunch of other stuff like network mapping, and stuff like that.
Justin Cooke: It’s really easy to use.
Joe Magnotti: Yeah, very nice, simple interface, and it makes pretty little charts, so if you need it, Lucidchart, check it out.
Justin Cooke: All right, now that’s it for episode 87 of Empire Flippers Podcast. Thanks for being with us. Make sure to check us out on Twitter at Empire Flippers, and we’ll see you next week.
Joe Magnotti: Bye-bye, everybody.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Empire Flippers Podcast with Justin and Joe. Be sure to hit up empireflippers.com for more, that’s empireflippers.com. Thanks for listening.
Photo Credit: Mike Poresky via Compfight cc
Justin, what was the name of the organization you mentioned at 39:46? It sounds like they are a large ecommerce business that did $100,000,000 in revenue.
I just looked and looked and couldn’t, for the life of me, find that article about the guys.
For more details though:
– They reverse engineered products (consumer electronics) selling well on Amazon
– Had them manufactured and tested selling them on Amazon
– Scaled up the ones that worked, dumped the ones that didn’t
– They were brothers (I think?) out of NYC
– Were totally understated but had this massive company
– Have a call center that handles all calls
It was a press piece that was done on them and was really, really interesting. Was on something like NYTimes, Salon…something like that.
On a different but interesting note, these Samwer brothers are killing it by copying successful companies and building them in Asia/Europe:
If I find that original article with the other guys I’ll let you know.
Superb episode! There’s a ton of value here. Dave really offers some useful insights, that I completely agree with. There is a lot to learn before getting successful with e-commerce sites. But, mini e-commerce sites makes a lot of sense. In my opinion, this episode ties in with this episode 84. It’s important to start at the beginning, and learn things the right way. I’ve just bagged some really awesome, actionable resources. Thanks, Justin, Joe and Dave!
Thanks Nick, I’m glad you got some value out of the interview!!
Great episode! Now you’ve got me doing the course and wanting to start some ecommerce sites. Supposing that time is relatively free (I’m living it up in Bangkok with plenty of free time), how realistic is it to make, say, $1,000 a month with a small portfolio of these sites after going through the whole course and picking up the keyword tool?
Also, I signed up for the free version without using the link here…is it possible to merge into the one month free somehow?
Hey Zachary, I’m glad you liked the content!
Making $1,000 in profit with your first e-store is a very reasonable goal! If you really get a good understanding of the process and techniques taught prior to launching your first store, I would say that’s quite likely!
Contact our sales manager at help@storecoach:disqus .com and he should be able to set you up with a “first month free” Pro membership. 😉
Now that’s a lead page! ->>
Another great episode! I listen to many podcasts and I have to say Empire Flippers is hands down my favorite! Although I like Joe more than Justin, I have to give him props on an interview well done. I’m new to building niche websites and I was about to spin content, until I heard on this podcast that Google will drop my rankings.
I’m building an Amazon affiliate monetized website. I am writing my own articles but I was planning to copy and paste photos and product descriptions for the product review pages.
Justin touched on it when giving the Applebees analogy. Does anybody have suggestions on how to review products without duplicating content? If spinning content isn’t cool, what do we do?
Yeah, spinning is a really bad idea and actually has been for 2+ years now. The “latest & greatest” spinning software will work, but you never know how long that will last. Google gets better at detecting that kind of stuff every day. Honestly, you are better off with minimal unique content, or 100% duplicate content (internal or external).
Your options are to create the content yourself by “hand” or to outsource the work. There are LOTS of places online to get content written for you. It’s kind of “hit or miss,” but you can usually find a reasonable person or service and stick with that. We actually use our own service called Contentastic for all of our content, but it’s on the pricier end (because it’s extremely good content that’s written by native Americans with proven writing skills).
Good luck to you! 😉
Wow great info!
I REALLY want to do these first couple of websites on my own including the content. Justin and Joe always recommends that when starting out, to do the work myself so this way I know what I’m talking about when outsourcing tasks including content.
But you’re right! Once it starts to earn some money I will outsource like Chris Ducker suggests in his new book Virtual Freedom.
Thank you for your help David!
Yep – getting started with it yourself will help you learn the best way to create/craft the content for the sites. You definitely won’t want to do this long-term, but it does seem to be the best way to get started when you’re just starting out.
Chris’s book is quite helpful if you’re looking to get started with outsourcing. From another outsourcer and someone who works with agents in the Philippines, most of his insights are spot on…
Thank you Justin. I will be a lifelong fan of Empire Flippers.