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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Greetings everyone. I have been lurking and learning quite a bit. I have a million questions, but I will narrow it down to only a few for now. :) Thanks to everyone for providing such a great resource. I'm still lost at this point, but at least now I know I'm lost!! :eek:

Background:

I have registered a domain and a premium CP shop under the same name. So far I don't have any designs ready to go. My ultimate goal is to have the majority of my traffic routed through my external website running CPshop. I want that setup so that if things pick up for me then I will have the option of easily phasing out CP and either printing myself or directly contracting it.

Right now however, I have no web development skill so even setting up a basic external site is a big task. I'm up for the challenge of learning but I would like to launch some designs by Thanksgiving-ish to (try to) catch some Holiday $.

So my basic plan is:

1. Set up CP premium shop with my initial designs.

2. Set up my external website temporarily to be a

  • a. Landing page (or possibly a blog) with a links to my CP shop
  • b. or just domain forward/grip to the CP shop.
3. Begin initial marketing efforts while working on my external site and setting up the CPshop scrips.

And that's where I get confused. If I use this approach and begin SEO before finishing the external site, then any links I build would be directly to my cafepress shop (on the CP servers)? This would not be in line with my long term goals of directing all traffic through my website.

So my main questions are: Given my goals, should I wait to launch my shop until I have the external site fully set up (i.e... running CPshop and pulling all my designs). I would still have to set up the CP store normally before setting up CPshop scripts right (told you I'm a noob)? Or should I just set up the CP store (CP server) as soon as possible and but hold off on my marketing/SEO campaign until the external site is finished. That way I could at least have a chance at getting some marketplace sales sooner.

Sorry if these questions are truly inane, but like I said, I'm new to ecommerce. Also, I know there is an element of getting a bit ahead of myself here, worrying about external traffic and whatnot when I haven't even started yet, but I would like to focus on my long terms goals from the start and devise the best way to work towards them.

Well, I think I ended up kind of rambling. Hopefully I expressed my questions clearly enough to get some advice. Thanks in advance to anyone who tries :)

Aaron
 

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Hello Aaron
I think your plan is a good plan. I have the same steps when I began almost
The most important thing you have to focus initially on the preparation of some good designs.
You do not have to wait to launch your shop until you have the external site fully set up..no need to waste time.. you can redirect your domain to your shop in the first phase . Or you can work on both building your external site and your shop.
you can easily use CMS or blog system to build your external site.
And I have this in my site and which is still under development
You must begin the work of steps.
as you know, 1000 miles must begin with a single step

I wish you luck and success :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey, thanks for the reply and encouragement Salama. Are you doing any marketing besides optimizing your product descriptions, image tags, etc directly in the Cafe Press stores or are you going to wait until your external site is finished? Are you using CPshop?

Thanks again for the info and good luck with your journey as well!
 

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You have a good attitude and approach Aaron.

My advice would be to at least get some of designs ready because even if you do get your cpshop up and running you won't have any content for it and therefore won't have much SEO benefit.

So it is best to do everything in parallel, you will benefit far greater that way. Your long term approach is the best one. Focus on driving your own sales via your own traffic source, that way you aren't reliant on CP's marketing, can build a brand and therefore split at anytime.

Marty offers an installation service for a small fee, so if you are struggling to get it set up just pay him to take care of it for you. I think he recommends Bluehost as the preferred hosting service.

A blog is a simple thing to install - I recommend WordPress and that will come with all major hosting packages.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Adam,

Thanks for your input as well! It seems like the most sensible thing for me to do would be to get a few designs in all my desired shop categories to get a base to work from, then set up the external CPshop scripts, blog etc. Then in parallel add new designs and work on marketing/SEO etc.

It's amazing how much more complicated this business is than one would imagine before starting the research process. That's probably a good thing though because I bet a lot of people don't put the neccessary effort in to be successful - which is a very good thing for everyone already in business :)
 

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I would recommend to go ahead and get your CP shop up and running.
You mentioned about having it ready for the holiday season and time is running out. It can take search engines a few months or so to find you.
I'm not sure when the "official" holiday shopping begins but it has already started for me.......a few weeks or so ago.

Good luck to you- it sounds like you have things in order and know what you want.
Brenda
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Brenda,

Thanks for your input as well :)

You make a very good point about the search engine listings. I had thought of that and figured I am probably out of luck for the majority of the holiday season in regards to generating any decent rankings. However I'm not opposed to some hands on marketing approaches in the local market such as flyer's and business cards. I'm very close to a BIG university so that would be one of my primary targets. Anybody had luck with that approach? Is there an easy way to track the results of a flyer campaign? I've heard of using a hidden URL but I'm not sure if it's a good idea to make the URL more complicated than it needs to be. Cafepress doesn't allow custom coupon codes at this time do they?

Thanks again to everyone who has responded :)
 

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You're welcome.
Targeting college students is a good idea.
My son has a shop that is geared around college students and does pretty well.
I'm not sure how you could track results from a flyer but if you fiqure it, let me know ;)

About the coupon codes- are you asking if YOU can make coupons for your shop? You can make your profit as high or low as you like and then put it in a special section "Discount/Sale Items" or something like that. But I don't think you can actually make-up coupons.
If I have misunderstood what you were asking, I apologize.
There are several coupon codes offered for CP stores.
You can go to CafePress and do a search on the forums for "coupon codes".
Hope that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Brenda, thanks for confirming what I already thought. I was wondering if they allowed you to make custom coupon codes. I did a search but couldn't find any indication that they did. That would be a great marketing feature because then you could make a custom code for each set of fliers, region, print ad etc to figure out a conversion rate for specific print ads.

The only way I have seen suggested to track business cards/print ads was by ZapGraphix on a blog he set up (which I found through the regular CP forums).

The UNofficial CP Blog: Track Your Business Cards

Steps 2 and 3 talk about setting up hidden sections of your Cafepress shop, then putting the URL for the hidden sections on the business cards. Any hits on those URLs should be from the ads. It's a clever trick, but I'm not sure if I'll use that one. I think personally I'd rather have a coupon (as a shopper). Something similar to "mention this ad and receive a discount" type of thing you see all the time.

Anyway, you can probably tell I'm getting waaaay too far ahead of myself here, but I was just brainstorming marketing possibilities. I can't help it - I have a degree in engineering and we are always accused of suffering from "analysis paralysis." I'm trying to find a good balance between thinking and doing though.
 

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Aaron, I suggest you spend the months leading up to Christmas doing three things.... 1. Designing 2. Designing and 3. Designing. All the SEO and marketing in the world will do you absolutely no good if you don't have a product.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Haha, thanks for the advice Stratman. That reality has slowly been setting in. I think some degree of optimism is probably built into entrepreneurship oriented individuals. I realize now I definitely was being a little overly optimistic about the time line, but oh well. Baby steps. As long as progress is being made it's all good.

Aaron, I suggest you spend the months leading up to Christmas doing three things.... 1. Designing 2. Designing and 3. Designing. All the SEO and marketing in the world will do you absolutely no good if you don't have a product.
 
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