That Time When I Tried to Start an Ecommerce Store in 5 Hours

Right now, I run an ecommerce store that I started about six months ago. It provides me with a little bit of extra income, but more importantly serves as an incredibly effective way to learn Facebook ads, marketing strategy, copywriting, and ad design.

Recently, I had an idea for a completely different product niche that would allow me to branch out and learn how to sell a completely different product and market to a completely different demographic. I’ve been planning on pursuing this idea for a while, but haven’t done anything to make it happen. Why?

Because it took me a long period of several months to get my current store off the ground before I made my first sale. And even longer to get to the point where I was making several sales a day.

I’ve been telling myself that I ‘don’t have enough time’.

Today, I’m going to prove myself wrong.

It’s labor day. I have the day off work and no plans. So far, my weekend has been pretty unproductive, so I’m going to turn that around.

Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. If that’s true, then…

Why not start an ecommerce store today? And why not blog about it since I’ve also been putting off writing blog posts? Quick, stream-of-consciousness writing about my experience will be an excellent way to have off-the-timer breaks while simultaneously evaluating my process and keeping myself on track.

The purpose of this blog post is isn’t to be a documentation of how to start an ecommerce store. Rather, my focus is on learning more about the way that I work and proving to myself that I can do more than I think I can.

Here’s what I’m starting with:

  • A business model (drop shipping using Aliexpress and Shopify, with Facebook ads to drive traffic)
  • A bit of (old and stale) knowledge of how to go about setting all of this up
  • A vague idea of a product niche (without any products or prior market research)

The goal is to get from here to running my first product ad on Facebook in five hours.

Ambitious? Maybe.

There’s only one way to find out.

Headphones on. The timer starts now.

**WARNING: The following is what I wrote between intense periods of work and consists mostly of stream of consciousness writing with only a little editing afterwards. Read at your own risk.**

4:30 LEFT ON THE CLOCK

I almost gave up 20 minutes in. Niche research isn’t going as well as I hoped. I expanded my original idea into a few other related ones, but none of them are looking amazing based off initial Facebook ad research. But I’m going to push on and go with the best one. Even if it doesn’t end up working, there isn’t a huge time or financial investment involved.

It’s not perfect, but it will work. If I sit on this for too long, I’ll overthink it and nothing will happen.

I’ve checked a few domain names for availability and settled on one that I’m pretty happy with to serve as my site name. Again, no overthinking allowed.

While my timer is paused, I’m going to jump around a bit to keep my energy high and refill my water.

4:00 LEFT ON THE CLOCK

My domain name is purchased. A support email address is set up. My Shopify store is set up. A Facebook page is created. Now on to figuring out DNS records to map my domain to my Shopify store and my support email to my domain. Fun stuff.

2:30 LEFT ON THE CLOCK

Time for a food/grocery shopping break. My fridge is empty and I need to refuel and step away for some fresh air. This will get my brain completely off the project and will allow me to come back feeling refreshed and reenergized.

1:00 LEFT ON THE CLOCK

Okay… I’ve got a public, functioning Shopify store mapped to my own domain, and my Facebook page has a roughly designed logo. My new Facebook ad account is set up with payment info and is ready to start running ads. The support email is routed to my email client. My Facebook tracking pixel is created and connected to my Shopify store.

I unfortunately ran into a time consuming snag because I couldn’t figure out how to make a new separate Facebook Ad Account while still having it under the same Business Manager account I use for my existing website. A good 30 minutes of research and rechecking multiple ‘Settings’ pages later, it’s all good.

But that means I only have about an hour to go. I need to find and schedule some Facebook posts for my page and run a quick engagement campaign to get that page off the ground.

Then I need to flesh out my currently empty store with some products that have good reviews and reputable sellers, then write product page copy for them and add them to my store.

Then I have to pick my favorite product, design an ad image, write ad copy, figure out interest targeting and run it.

I’m really starting to feel the pressure now. Writing product descriptions and ad copy tends to take a lot of time and writing and rewriting that I’ll have to cut short for now. I’m feeling a bit apprehensive about driving paid traffic to a product page that isn’t necessarily a final draft, but it’s just one initial ad to test out audience targeting.

I’m also feeling pretty tired at this point. But I’m switching my music from the rock I’ve been listening to for the past few hours to some high energy K-pop. Let’s get this dooonnneee.

Five Hours and Ten Minutes In

I’ve been listening to the same song on repeat for the past 20 minutes. That’s how you can tell that I’m in a flow state. I’ve now scheduled four posts for my new Facebook page, plus an engagement campaign for said page. I’ve also written some decent(ish) copy for two products and have a few more products lined up that I’m going to write more copy for in the morning. I also designed and wrote an ad that’s scheduled to start delivering tonight to a test audience.

Which means…. I only went over my goal by ten minutes. Not bad.

I’m exhausted, but it comes with a great feeling of accomplishment. I have built a solid foundation to start testing different products and audience targeting.

What I Learned

Not only did I complete what I set out to do, I also learned a few things that I will keep in mind when working on any project in the future.

First, it’s not as hard as you think. Yes, I did have previous knowledge of this process that helped me out, but I thought five hours was too ambitious. That’s why I set that goal. But I made it happen.

Secondly, don’t overthink it. Getting started is much more valuable than thinking about it for months without ever doing anything. You can (and should) always go back and perfect later.

Setting a time limit makes so much easier to get past those two mental road blocks.

During these five hours, I didn’t check social media. I ignored any incoming email notifications. I wasn’t thinking about anything else.

Why? Because I had set a timer. And the timer was ticking. Yes, I took breaks, but that’s an essential part of the process and definitely contributed to meeting my goal. Setting the timer also really allowed me to get into the state of flow, which got better results.

So… What’s next?

With all that I’ve learned from this experiment, I’m going to keep working. I’m setting another crazy time limit, though of a different sort.

I’m going to get my first sale in one week. The deadline is Monday at 10:37am – the exact time I started my five hour timer.

I will be blogging my process this week, so if you are interested in what I’m doing to make this happen, there’s a place where you can subscribe to my blog via email at the bottom of the page.

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