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Greetings one and all.

I've been surfing the web for information about selling t-shirts online and came across this wonderful forum. I've spent the last day and night reading alot of comments, questions, ideas and I think its a fantastic resource.

My name is Glen, and to be honest, this isn't my first attempt at attempting to start a sucessful e-commerce site.

A year ago, I tried selling toys online. I made a terrible mistake of spending over $3000 australian for a professional site, search engine submissions and google adwords only to find it didn't get me a single sale. And I still wasn't happy with the way the site looked despite the cost.

So I took my hand at trying to sell some on a certain auction website. Course I got alot of sales, but the bids either didnt cover the cost of the dvd or didnt profit enough.

Yes... a very silly mistake.
It wound me up in debit for over $7000 more and I spent the next year paying back my folks who were kind enough (despite it destroying their faith in me as a responsible individual) to give me the money to pay suppliers and shut down the business.

At first, after the aftermath of having to refund the remainding customers rightly so, about 200 of them, I didn't want to have anything to do with e commerce.
Even going near a computer made me sick to the stomache.

But after having paid back all that was owing to my folks, and doing some deep soul searching, and learning the incredibly stupifying errors of my way, I have decided to try e commerce again.

BUT THIS TIME... I am not going to throw my money away on professional websites. Having a smart looking site helps, but it doesnt guarantee traffic AND conversion of traffic to sales.

Ive taught myself website design, and ive decided to use paypal as the shopping cart (yes yes, I know some of you don't like paypal, and that it doesn't look as streamlined as some would hope) but its free to set up and I dont have to pay expensive hosting costs and maintenance costs to technical support people.

I have come up with the t shirt store idea and thats how ive come to arrive here.

My plan, hopefully, is to .....

1. Build a reasonably professional looking store
2. Come up with both "quality" AND "reasonable range of designs" specifically for the dungeon & dragon type 'game geek' market (this is my passion and hobby so i think it will help
3. Turn the website into a community knitted site in order to drive traffic, things like adding a forum, blogging, become part of the dungeons and dragons/game geek webring group, maybe come up with a chat room for gamers to get togther to talk about the game we all love and so forth
4. And of course, submit to search engines

and most importantly

5. Purchase a couple of white and black tees, and some heat transfer supplies and use my printer to print-when-ordered and post of to customers via australia post [as I am in australia]

I know you have to spend money to make money, but I don't want to repeat the same mistake. I think the first time I just threw money to solve the problem and I think im going to have to be alot of savvy when it comes to the tshirt business as im beginning to realise its very very very competitive.

I hope, that by being as economical and thrifty with my costs without compromising quality, professionalism and great customer service and product I can slowly, but surely be sucessful.

So a big hello to everyone, nice to meet you all, and I look forward to contributing to this forum on a regular basis and learning the ropes!

Feel free to say hi and tell me what you think, or to just introduce yourself or what have you, id love to hear from you all!

:)
 

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Couple quick ideas and suggestions.

There is a MAJOR retail store here in the US. The originator borrowed the money from his family to start the store and it was a MAJOR success. BUT it was the 10th time he had borrowed money, the other 9 times he failed MISERABLY!

I have an online store with houstonpro.com I have been VERY happy with them. You know HTML so you can use that if you like. No long term contract, cancle when you like. I know NO html and have still made what others(not friends) have said is a VERY nice looking professional site.

you can see the cost i just $39 a month including shopping cart. I applied with the merchant(credit card processing co) they suggest on the site and was approved within 1 week with not the best credit in the world. I get the money into my bank account within 3 business days of the person paying via credit card.

As far as a T-shirt business online I think they are over done. EVEN if they are not how will you get people to see your site?

On the internet the lowest price usually wins because a customer MOST likely will only purchase shirts once or twice a year at most so customer service really isn't going to help too much.

IMO it is not a good business to go into. Open your mind, do what you REALLY enjoy, pray to God and donate even if it is just $5 a month to a worthy charity. I KNOW this sounds corney but I TRULY believe it is the road to success.

Wealth should NEVER be measured in terms of money:)


BEST of luck and I have faith you will find what you deserve
 

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I admire you for your determination to carry on and find a business that does succeed on the Internet. A couple of guys on the net ventured into many different businesses which all failed apart from one, cafepress. So, don't be put off by your first hurdle.

I would just like to say though, you don't have to spend bucket loads of money to start a good looking, well converting website. There are various template sites out there, like templatemonster, who have some great designs to get you started. Download the cubecart software people have been mentioning, it's free. Works with PayPal and you will have greater control of your inventory and shopping cart process.

Now, instead of wasting money with Adwords do your research beforehand. Research is free, well most of it. Sites like webmasterworld are a God send. And makesure you Google Perry Marshall also. Then attempt your PPC.

Your plan sounds good btw especially the community aspect, it will serve you well.

Welcome the the forums.
 

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ShadowDragon said:
My name is Glen, and to be honest, this isn't my first attempt at attempting to start a sucessful e-commerce site.
Welcome to the forums. I think the fact that you're honest with yourself and others about your past mistakes is a great start. Plenty of successful businesses have a trail of mistakes behind them, the key is to keep learning from them and trying again until either you make it, or the money truly runs out. Here's hoping it's the first for you and not the second.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
:)

Thanks everyone.
And your right. It took alot of character to face the problems I have previously.

Everyone always talks about the rollercoaster rides' highs, but rarely do they harp on about the lows. And man, it wasnt pleasant let me tell you.

But I have learnt a hell of alot. Being the eldest in my family of siblings, I always had to learn things to hard way, call me stubborn but it was the only way I learnt.

Admittingly, its the best teacher I've had, but the foolish thing would be to NOT learn from these lessons I've learnt in the past. Im determine to make it work, but as the saying goes ... you dont work harder to make something work better... just have to work smarter.

Thanks guys for your support!:)
 

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Hey Glen,

Welcome to the forums, Interesting story that you brought. Its important to kee p the spirit, seems like you are a person that never give up!!! thats a good quality. There are a lot of opportunities in business around the world.

My name is Elias I'm from Costa Rica, as you can read my english is not perfect but even due I started my online t shirt a couple of weeks ago with just $59 bucks.

My sales are doing OK... and the only thing that I really invest on... is on time ( a lot ). But that is necesary in order to succeded in the business world. I have a shop on cafepress. If you would like to have more information about it let me know ([email protected])

Thanks and keep working man!!
 

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Hi Glen,
Welcome to the forum!

A lot of guys here make good profit with online stores from cafepress and other similar sites without investing any money, just time. Yes, I think that time is the anwer not the investment. You'll need good designs but you'll also need to spend a lot of time advertising your goods, there is no need even to print your t-shirts at home as this sites will do it for you.

I think that you'll learn a lot of things on this forum that will help you build a succesfull business.

Have fun!
 

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"3. Turn the website into a community knitted site in order to drive traffic, things like adding a forum, blogging, become part of the dungeons and dragons/game geek webring group, maybe come up with a chat room for gamers to get togther to talk about the game we all love and so forth"

That is going to take you a long long time to build. I know it from personal experience, took me almost 3 years to build my own close knit community. My only advice is to start small, and be patient. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
True. Id love for it to turn out like a fairy tale, yknow.. you set up shop, you get dozens of orders, they grow and grow... you get busier and busier and low and behold soon your quitting your day job with a smile on your face knowing you've made it and how sweet it is to run a home based business with an ecommerce website... but I know realistically... like a well cooked meal.... they take time, you can't rush these things.

Still, would be nice , ah well, patience I must have... but it'll be worth it in the end im sure... Im wondering how long it took everyone else to get set up and established, and if were all home based business operators? Or am I the only amateur here :p
 

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Hi Glen

Just a note to congratulate you on persevering! A word of warning: be wary of just how thrifty you become. I've seen friends of mine go through a rough patch, get into debt and by the time they picked themselves up again, they didn't want to spend money on anything! ;) I see you've thought that out though!

These boards will be fantastic for you, a wealth of knowledge.

Good luck and congrats on the ever-enduring entrepreneurial spirit! :D
 

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Shandowdragon,

I hear ya about starting small. I wanted to do a bunch of things from the beginning but that would involve a bunch of money. But I realized that I can always do those things over time when I actually make money.

Dave
 

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Hey Glen, thanks for sharing your story. I don't think I could count the number of times I've tried something and failed (or paid too much for something that I didn't need or could have gotten cheaper).

The key is to make sure you learn something from the mistakes and use that to move forward (instead of dwelling), sounds like you've got that key.

:welcome:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hey Thanks Rodney.

It's funny, when it first happened, when I first got the idea that things were going south for my last business, it was awful. People hounding you, suppliers calling you asking for payment, it was physically making me queezy and I swore to myself never ever ever to do a buisness ever again.

But after a year, I find myself going back to reading those articles about how the now-big-names in e commerce made it and cant help but get that little entreprenuerial fire burning.

I am CERTAINLY going to learn from my previous mistakes and start methodical, slow, careful and wise with my new store and I truely think that despite there being ALOT of competition online, the `make the product up yourself' idea by printing your own designs up on a shirt and selling it for a reasonble profit per unit online is the perfect model to use.

You show your designs online.
The customer only see's the site and takes it in (hopefully) as a professional shopping destination.
The customer has no idea you don't have any stock and that you only print up as the orders are made.
The stock is printed and shipped when paid for.

What could be simpler.... (why do I feel I've just jinxed myself saying that lol)

Neverless, I'm hoping this one will work... hoping... thanks again for your support!
 

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The customer has no idea you don't have any stock and that you only print up as the orders are made.
It might be a good idea to let the customer know what to expect up front. Some of the biggest companies that "print to order" let customers know that is exactly what happens (it also helps to explain any shipping delays).
 

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Re: If at first you dont succeed....EDUCATE & PLAN

Jenalpa said:
Couple quick ideas and suggestions.

As far as a T-shirt business online I think they are over done. EVEN if they are not how will you get people to see your site?

On the internet the lowest price usually wins because a customer MOST likely will only purchase shirts once or twice a year at most so customer service really isn't going to help too much.
This makes everything sound so hopeless and this is NOT the case. For those willing to educate themselves and find untapped markets and ways to help them stand out from the competition, there can be great success....but not when you concede that to be your fate. Your success is not dependent upon how much you pray. God helps those who help themselves. If you want to learn more about SEO(search engine optimization) and finding untapped niche markets do yourself a favor and sign up for these FREE classes. The info is INVALUABLE gnc-web-creations.com/seo-optimization.htm
Good Luck, Tony
 
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