Aug 132012
 

Quite a bit of time has passed without any new contributions to this poor out of date site. The reason being I have been so busy with my new eCommerce site I have not had a minute to work on this site. Before I get too far ahead of myself I decided I needed to slow down and analyze a bit what has been going on. It’s time to let all you people out there in internet land learn how to do what I do.

Now it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do this – I won’t lie. I have a LOT of experience running eCommerce sites (coming up on 8 years). I finally decided to tackle one entirely on my own. SEO, Programming, Adwords, Marketing, and all that good stuff. The good news is, I am pushing up on $200,000 in sales and there is still 2 months left in the first year! The bad news is there is so goddamn much to do I don’t have a minute to breath.

Perhaps this blog can once again become a way for me to structure my thoughts and move forward with new ideas. I would love to meet other people interested in discussing this kind of stuff.

Marketing strategy includes eBay, Faucetlist.com, and sales made through emails and phone calls generated by internet marketing.

So whether you sell Kitchen Faucets, Bathroom Faucets, Wall Mount Faucets or other weird stuff I think I can help. This site is designed to be a laser targeted eCommerce site. You may read in the world of internet marketing how important it is to have your niche. I’ve experimented with this kind of thing before doing affiliate marketing – specifically through Amazon Affilates but I found I could make more money selling my own products.

I happened to have connections in the Faucet and plumbing fixtures world from my previous employment which is why I started this kind of site. With suppliers and product knowledge you can go quite far with just a touch of internet marketing magic. Haha – what that really means is working a lot for not a lot of money. But it can be done.

I don’t really want this blog to turn into some 4 hour work week type thing about how to live your life but I will point out a few interesting tidbits. I am a U.S. citizen currently living in Beijing, China. I have been learning mandarin and supporting myself with Faucetlist.com selling products to US customers.

You might say, how the hell can you run an ecommerce business all the way from China. Well that’s a good question. Maybe if you stick with me through my sporadic posts I’ll manage to explain more.

Let’s just say step one is you have to have a website that you control. This site as well as Faucetlist – Your home For Faucets and Plumbing Fixtures! are registered through

Bluehost has been awesome to work with and I can’t imagine going anywhere else. Eiconnectlink.com is also hosted with Bluehost. Faucetlist is actually hosted by another eCommerce service platform provide that we will get into next time but the domain is still with Bluehost. CLICK HERE TO SIGNUP FOR BLUEHOST.COM I know you won’t regret it.

Ok, that’s it for now, btw, sorry for typos or any shit like that. I am not a great proof-reader and I never claimed to be much of a writer either!

Sep 292011
 

Ok, well this is going to be a little boring (and seemingly pointless) for some, yet extremely useful for others. I’m writing it down for personal reference. As for me, this is extraordinarily useful stuff. Get ready for an excel / open office lesson. If you want to start an eCommerce business, the most important concept for you to understand is that you must have control of your data. I cannot stress enough the necessity to be able to manipulate your data. Chances are, if you are trying to learn how to start an ecommerce business, the tips outlined in this article (and in the next article on how to use VLookup) will seem confusing and/or pointless. Stick with me as there’s a method to my madness. I didn’t build an 1.2 million/year business from scratch without a few tricks! Follow along as I work on doing it again!

If you are operating a webstore, you will likely have thousands of products. The initial launch for my soon-to-be released site will contain approximately 2000-2500 products. The initial launch will only reflect a small number of the products that will be for sale in the future. Keeping track of everything you’ve got selling is going to be absolutely essential.

You can manually upload one by one, adjusting price one by one, adjusting everything manually one by one. It will work. And when your suppliers raise prices 5% good luck to you. When a collection is discontinued and you have to delete it all by hand, one by one good luck to you. We have computers now. Fucking use them.

Losing control of your data can be a terrible time drain. A prominent developer I used to work with would always say, if it can be automated, automate it. If it’s a repetitive task, automate it. No exceptions.

Ok, excel. And a little of open office. Why? Just because both have some advantages. Obviously most sites call for .csv files – In which case you really have to use excel. Open office is good too. Let’s discuss some common problems for eCommerce merchants.

Problem 1
You have a file full of images. You need those images to be listed in an excel spreadsheet so you can match them up with MSRP, items specifics, UPC, Cost, Sell Price, etc. This is absolutely essential if you hope to upload products to your website in bulk.

I have 2000 images. They are named Product.jpg, Product2.jpg, Product3.jpg and so on. How can I get this list into excel without typing each item individually?

Step one, prepare to dust off those ms dos skills you haven’t used since the 90s.

Go to file, run, and type “cmd” – This will pull up the dos menu.

Type “Dir c:\(your file location) > c:\(your file location)\filelist.txt

This creates a text file for you with a list of all the files in the folder.

Now, look in the (your file location) folder and you will see the filelist.txt file. Open it. Select All, Copy. Them go to Open Office and open a new spreadsheet and Paste in the contents.

A “Text Import” windo will pop-up. You will need to look at the “Separated by” section and make sure the “Space” box is check. Also, check the “other” box and add a “.” – This will make sure the .jpg from the filelist will be dropped into a separate column. Last, click the box next to “Merge delimiters” – this will set up the formatting nicely so you will have one column with just the product code.

Now that you have this list, you can combine it with some other powerful features – namely, VLookup. How to use VLookup will be the subject for the next post.

A brief bonus tip. You have a section on a bulk upload file calling for a link to the image location on your ftp. You have uploaded all your products as .jpgs in ftp:\(your location)\product1.jpg…product2.jpg…product3.jpg etc. Now you want a list in the spreadsheet.

Use the & function. In your spreadsheet, build the link. Have column A say: http://www.(your location) Column B will be the part number (or image names list – that we just learned how to extract!) Column C will be “.jpg” (which may or may not be necessary depending on what data you currently have). Last you need Column D for the formula. Type “=ColumnA&ColumnB&ColumnC” That’s it!

One last tip about spreadsheets. If you have created a list with a formula, and then you go to copy and paste it to another spreadsheet, you may lose the data. To circumvent this annoyance, copy and past first into a blank text file, then copy and paste again to the other spreadsheet. This will preserve the order.

AUTOMATION is key. If this doesn’t make sense to you feel free to ask. If you have encountered this sort of problem (like I do all the time), this info. could be quite helpful! I certainly hope it is! Next up, VLookup.

Sep 032011
 

So here is another brief sub-post to my How To Start an Ecommerce Website Series

Make Firefox 6.01 look and Act like Google Chrome

This is an issue I noticed before but have not wanted to deal with. I was correct in assuming it would be very annoying but there are some great benefits.

Firefox plugins are generally much better than Chrome. As a developer, you may want to use Firebug (the most popular and useful development tool for look/feel design of websites. Firebug only works in Firefox. As an SEO you may want to use SEOquake – and the Firefox Version is much easier to use than the Chrome version. With KeePass for storing passwords, Using the plugin KeeFox works flawless, whereas the Chrome equivalent was very buggy.

This stems from the fact that Firefox is really Open Source. Chrome claims to have some kind of open source functionality through something called Chromium, but in actuality that’s not really how things work.

So the dilemma is this: I prefer Chrome in many ways, but I figured it might be possible to “fix” the issues I have with Firefox, since overall I believe Firefox to be a superior browser.

Fixing the Address Bar to do a Search in Google

This is a bit trickier for me since I am writing from China through a Proxy server. The solution was made easy by Installing the Foobar add-on. This transforms your Address bar into a Google Search similar to Chrome.

Fixing the Layout

Firefox is VERY busy, whereas chrome is sleek and minimal. First I added the Movable Firefox Button. This allowed me to move the bright orange Firefox down from the top left corner, into the position where the Google Wrench is located.

I then Right Clicked the Firefox button, navigated to Options, then Toolbar Layout.

I removed the Google search bar, having replaced that functionality with the address bar. I re-arranged everything to my liking. Moved the Stop/Reload button to the left hand side, set my bookmarks bar to be below the address bar, and moved my plugins into place to the right of my address bar (left of the firefox button).

Next, I added a skin to make the appearance more like Chrome – I found one that slims things down a lot which is my favorite feature of Chrome. Shine Bright Was the best option I could find for this. While it’s not 100% perfect it’s pretty good. Below you can view my screen-shots to view the results side by side:

Now that you see how to make it look basically the same, you need to change a few more things to get the functionality to work the same.

Changing the way Firefox Tabs work to act like Chrome

I have seldom felt like more of a geek for caring about something so silly, but I can’t believe how annoyed I was by how the tab system works in Firefox. I pictured my parents listening to me complain about all the issues I have with tabbed browsing in Firefox, and realized they probably hadn’t even realized there could *possibly* be that many problems with something so simple. They would have just learned to accept the system “as-is” and move on with their lives.

Well not me. And apparently not a LOT of other people. For the last step in the process of converting Firefox into Google Chrome, you will need to join 1 million+ people and download Tab Mix Plus.

This program actually handled all of my issues with Firefox Tabs – but it took a few adjustments to the settings.

First, install the plug-in and pull up the options menu. Then:

(1) Go to “Events – Tab Opening” check “Open tabs next to current one” (Check it in both places). Under the second, put a check next to “Change opening order.” Also check “Open duplicated tabs next to original.

(2) Go to “Display – Tab Bar” Set “New tab button” to “After Last tab.” Set position to “Top (Above Content).” Set “When tabs don’t fit width” to “scrollable, with buttons on right side.”

The way tabs scroll is ridiculously bothersome to me. As you can see in the image above, I normally have a LOT of tabs open. The Firefox, Scrollable tab bar is so annoying since it only shows a very small number of tabs. Scrolling is annoying!

To fix this, next navigate to the “Tab” tab under “Display.” There you can set the “Tab width.” Make it 30-250 and you will achieve the same functionality as Chrome, where tabs just keep getting smaller and smaller as you add more.

(3) Another benefit to Tab Mix Plus is you can now click on a tab, and open a new tab right next to it. In Chrome I used this feature all the time. In Firefox for some reason all new tabs would always open at the end. With the adjustment we did at the beginning you should have fixed this problem. However you will want to make sure Under the “Menu” button, “Tab Context Menu” you have a check next to “new tab.”

This will allow you to right click an open tab in Firefox and add a new tab immediately to the right.

There are loads of other options in Tabs Mix Plus and loads of other add-ons to Firefox. If you know anything good, leave me a comment.

Sep 022011
 

A 3 Part sub-post has found it’s way into my “How to start an eCommerce Website” Series. Post 1: KeePass, KeeFox plugin, Importing your current saved browser passwords. Post 2: KeePass, Integration with Dropbox. Post 3: Changing All your existing Passwords to more secure, randomly generated KeePass passwords. Well, like you, I was hoping this feature could be automated. After extensive searching, I have found no way to do this with complete automation. Simply because you must actually interact with each website and change the password. This is also an opportunity to organize your passwords. Create folders and sub-folders to [Read More...]

Sep 022011
 

A 3 Part sub-post has found it’s way into my “How to start an eCommerce Website” Series. Post 1: KeePass, KeeFox plugin, Importing your current saved browser passwords. Post 2: KeePass, Integration with Dropbox. Post 3: Changing All your existing Passwords to more secure, randomly generated KeePass passwords. So, You’ve read How to Manage all your online Passwords with KeePass Right? Now it’s time to learn about a cool way to sync your passwords on multiple computers with Dropbox. If you are unfamiliar with Dropbox, check it out – there are a lot of these syncing programs available and dropbox [Read More...]

Sep 022011
 

What is KeePass? A 3 Part sub-post has found it’s way into my Starting an eCommerce Website Series. Post 1: KeePass, KeeFox plugin, Importing your current saved browser passwords. Post 2: KeePass, Integration with Dropbox. Post 3: Changing All your existing Passwords to more secure, randomly generated KeePass passwords. KeePass is an open-source way to manage all your passwords securely. With my plans to launch a new website, it became clear that my old system to keep track of passwords was outdated and slow. Yes this is a social media marketing blog and yes i will talk more about social [Read More...]

Aug 312011
 

This blog has been silent for several months now. Not because I haven’t been working – more so because I just having been writing anything down. Things have been a whirlwind and I write this while sitting in my new apartment, back in Beijing. I began eiconnectlink in Helsinki, took a 5 week trip around europe, stopped back home in los angeles, and now have returned to china to continue my Chinese studies. You might ask, how can you do all this? how can you support yourself? what are you going to do when the fun is over and it’s [Read More...]

Feb 082011
 
How to use Google Analytics correctly

Using Google Analytics is an important skill for any webmaster. Using Google Analytics is a little tricky, but very helpful for determining what is working and what is not. Most of my Google Analytics experience is from an eCommerce perspective. We used Analytics to drill down on Keywords we were bidding on in PPC (Pay Per Click) ad campaigns. We actually focused on Micro-targeted keywords. In fact, with many products we were selling we were bidding on exact product descriptions and sending searchers directly from the ad to the product they searched for. This was helpful for conversion rates as [Read More...]

Feb 012011
 
Avoid getting stabbed in Morroco: Purchase an Amazon Kindle - Like to drink? Purchase the case too

Amazon Kindle book reader, my thoughts (and yours?) This post will talk about my new Amazon Kindle, and will include my thoughts/experiences so far. I will outline in this post some reasons I wanted one but never ordered it, and what made me finally decide to purchase a Kindle. My tangent to this story may surprise you! We’ll talk about how to get free books – there are literally thousands out there – and no I don’t mean from piratebay (this is great even for non-Kindle owners/wanters so make sure to keep reading!). These books are 100% FREE and legal [Read More...]

Jan 272011
 
4 Wordpress Plugins, a bonus Firefox plugin, and a rant on SPCAM

I’m going to jump off the topic of Backlinks for a minute, but I will be back on that subject in the next entry as I have some more information to share. For example, info. about paying for backlinks, and also on backlink stacking (VERY important stuff!! – I promise to follow up on these topics ASAP). In this blog we’ll talk about a few great WordPress plugins and one Firefox plugin I think you should know. By the way, WARNING -the next paragraph is a small (large) rant. Let me acknowledge for a minute that my brain is literally [Read More...]