Author Topic: Critique my new side gig website?  (Read 9588 times)

mustachepungoeshere

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #50 on: January 23, 2018, 03:11:52 PM »
Quote
HAVE A QUESTION NOT ANSWERED HERE?

Shoot us an e-mail: sales@WashingtoninaBox.com

Quote
If you have any questions, please visit our FAQs page, or contact us by e-mail: sales@washingtoninabox.com


Hyperlink the email address or, to keep spam to a minimum, embed a contact form.

Quote
A portion of every box sold goes to restoring wild salmon habitat

A portion of the profits of every box sold.


Cashonda

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #51 on: February 25, 2018, 08:30:37 AM »
Ooh I love this idea, I have seen the same concept where I live too - actually thought of it myself and then someone else did it right afterward hah. They closed down since. I think it was very seasonal for them, they would do well around December but then the rest of the year it was difficult to get traction.

I feel like this concept is cool and very Shark Tank.

The website is indeed very nice and professional looking. And I see that you have been working on SEO to get to the top of SERP for Washington in a Box. Great! I don't know if this has already been discussed (edit: I see that Belly05 gave some amazing advice) but have you analyzed keywords already for what people are actually searching for - not your brand name but like "gifts from Washington" or "local gifts seattle" or "valentines day gifts washington" I dunno what the heck people search for, I am cheap and dont buy gifts lol.

You want to be the first page of those searches. Yes, of course your brand name too but honestly I think that is way less important than what people are searching for who have never heard of you. You want to reach those people, not people who know about you and can type in your url already.

People have given amazing advice about marketing like reaching out to the local hotels to have gift boxes in the rooms for corporate events, weddings and the like. I agree. I guess it depends if you want to go for the offline marketing and/or online marketing. If you hope to make most of your sales through google searches and not through relationships built with local businesses then you need to get great at SEO.

As other people have mentioned there is some serious snake oil sh*t in the SEO world. But the basic truth is you gotta get on those first pages of search results for 'buying keywords' for your product or you better have another marketing plan. One way to do that is to add a blog type section to your site where you can write about the products or local businesses or whatever. This allows you to have fresh new content (which google likes) and to get some of your keywords on the site. You could for example interview one of your suppliers about how they started their business or about their amazing new product range. Or write about your favorite local hikes or best local coffee shop. Doesn't matter - but extra content is the way to get more traffic.

SEO is a huge topic that requires a lot of learning to be a pro but the basics aren't too difficult and can be gleaned in a few hours of research. If you'd like a list of my fave SEO experts let me know! Moz Whiteboard Friday is excellent but can be overwhelming if you are total newbie :)

I also loved the suggestion of having  a funny local twitter.

Your instagram link is broken. Do you have instagram? This could be a huge marketing opportunity if you are good with hashtags and compelling photography.

Finally - for bringing more eyeballs to the site - PINTEREST. It is an amazing marketing tool for bringing traffic to your site. Check out the podcasts from Simple Pin Media to learn how to market your business on Pinterest. It could be a game changer for a business like yours.

Good luck! :)

v8rx7guy

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #52 on: June 17, 2018, 10:00:40 PM »
Thought it might be interesting for some folks if I came back here to give a little bit of an update. 

I am just coming off of a nice Father's Day spike in sales, which was only 2nd to Mother's Day.  Year to date I have sold $2,600 in boxes and about $8,000 (about 140 boxes) since starting before Christmas last year. I am expecting a lull in sales until Christmas picks up again, maybe a box or two a month.  My conversion rate is only about 1% this year, but during Mother's / Father's weeks I can get up to about 4-5%.  I am running about a 33% profit margin, but that is before advertising which is a pretty big expense for me right now.  I started the business with $3,000 and I am have that back in my business checking account now (and also about $1,100 in inventory), so I guess I am in the black all things considered.  I have used the business to churn a checking account for $500 (Wells Fargo) and a credit card for $200 (Bank of America).  I am going to "go big" at Chrismas and try to churn the Chase Ink Cash card ($500 for $3,000 in spend). 

I have stopped using Facebook for advertising besides the occasional post boost, and am relying mostly on Google Adwords at this point.  I have spent almost $800 in advertising this year alone, it's crazy how fast you can burn through advertising money.  I did make a pretty big mistake and waste over $200 in advertising for Valentine's day for a whopping 2 box sales... ouch, never doing that again!  I changed my pricing scheme after Christmas to 4, 6, and 8-item boxes for $39, $49, and $59 respectively, this is a change from 3, 5, and 8-item boxes for $29, $39 and $55.  Now more people lean toward the 6-item box bringing my average sale price up nicely.  I also introduced the 24-item corporate / part crate for $179 which I have actually sold 2 so far.

I am still having a lot of fun with the concept, it's not a lot of work for me by any stretch of the imagination, so that's nice.  I am getting gaining followers on Facebook fairly steadily and have started using Instagram a bit.  I have some inventory that will not make it to Christmas, so I am hoping to drum up some advertising by doing some giveaways from now until Christmas to get some more followers.  I have seen quite a few return customers, so I think that people are pretty happy with their buying experience.  I have gained a lot of confidence with bringing in new products, I almost have some sort of wholesale pricing with all of my food products.

Ok, that's it for now!  I'd be happy to answer any questions.  Again, still not sure if I'm doing "good" or just "meh" but I do think the best is yet to come.  In the meantime, I am not losing money, and I am learning a lot!
« Last Edit: June 17, 2018, 10:07:07 PM by v8rx7guy »

Bicycle_B

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #53 on: June 18, 2018, 03:13:46 PM »
Nice update! Glad it's going well, and enjoyably so far.

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #54 on: June 18, 2018, 04:31:59 PM »
Glad to hear things have worked out pretty well so far.

One way to leverage what you've learned so far would be to offering to help people startup a similar business in a different state or region. For instant California or Texas is pretty broad but if someone narrowed it down to a specific city or region you could potentially franchise something like this for 100+ locations. If you wanted to spend the cash up front you could start buying up domain names for other states/regions/cities now and then build a brand. Cross links between the sites "Interested in an Oregon or Idaho box, click here" could help build up your SEO rankings.

frost7777

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #55 on: June 19, 2018, 08:12:12 AM »
Congratulations @v8rx7guy!  I would consider what you described to be a very successful first year for a side gig startup.  Excited to see how things work out for this upcoming year.  You won't need to build a website from scratch and you probably have dialed in your order processing at this point, so less work and more time to innovate.   

MrsDinero

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #56 on: June 20, 2018, 06:48:10 PM »
Congrats!  I've enjoyed following your story.  Look forward to hearing more updates. 

Rosy

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #57 on: July 02, 2018, 12:48:35 PM »
@v8rx7guy

Well, cranky ole lady here:) You invited critique and I have a couple of bones to pick, but first I will say that I love the website as such - perfectly in sync with my expectations of Washington State - love the slideshow pics, pleasing to the eye, color choices and the graphic on the box are spot-on with the "feelings" associated with Washington state. 

1. The first thing I noticed is $5.95 flat rate shipping all in red letters - big turn off since it is a reminder before I've even considered buying a thing. Just show it right underneath your price in the same color as your price - it's reasonable - a lot of us old ladies are used to online shopping networks charging 4.95 and 7.95.
Yes, I saw where someone else said the shipping fee was missing, but:)... You could also show the $5.95 flat rate shipping right by each merchandise and cardboard box, that way it is easy to find, but not front and center.
Just approach it as if it is normal to charge for shipping - Amazon might spoil us all, but people do understand that thankfully not everything is part of the Amazon universe.

2. Next, I see - What's Washington in a Box? and I'm curious for an answer - which isn't there. Instead, it says "Are you ready ..." and only in the second paragraph do you tell me what it's all about. Just switch those paragraphs for a natural flow.

3. Followed by - Build a box ??? - why am I seeing cardboard boxes? What am I building? - Where is the merchandise? - I might like to see the merchandise before I'm shown blank cardboard boxes, right?:)
Took me another irritating second to finally scroll down and see the actual merchandise. Not good.
The more enticing and intuitive flow would be to show the merchandise choices first and cardboard boxes in the very last row instead. Just switch your sequence.

4. Showing three rows of cardboard boxes is overwhelming - two rows are sufficient. Half the landing page filled with pictures of cardboard boxes is not appealing. Move the featured boxes into the second row and here is where you can utilize that red ink:) to set them apart.

5. I do love the crate for corporate and parties. It is where the money is, so it only makes sense to make it more prominent by showing it as the first item in the first cardboard row. It shouldn't be mixed into the second row - it should have the cash cow importance as the first option in the first row.
You may want to spotlight it during the holidays.

Consider adding a crate at the very top of the page to draw immediate attention to it. Clearly identify it as corporate-party box right next to those first two boxes with your cool graphic/logo on the box.

6. Now that I've re-arranged your landing page by eliminating the third row of cardboard boxes - you have space for what someone else already suggested - an entire row of smiling people opening up your fabulous gift boxes.

Like a box as a hotel welcome gift - talk to a few local hotels or even a B&B - ask them about staging a photo shoot in their establishment.
... and/or show a corporate environment surprising say Asian clients with gifts from Washington State (whatever might connect with the global business world in Washington State).
... and/or a guy opening a box right next to his hiking gear (he could be wearing a Seattle sports team shirt or a T-shirt like that graphic logo on your box).
It's good to put suggestions in people's minds and the all American girl or hot outdoorsy looking guy always sell well:) 

7. Things that make a difference and escalate profit: Glossy and slick sells!
Professional product shoots and a photo story/ad shoot are basically a one time expense - refresh once a year. The site looks slightly unpolished - but only and of all things - when it comes to the pictures of your products. Major fail - to attract.
 
If you want to save a bit of money - contact a local photography school or media/design institute for recommendations or ask the teacher/institute/college if they would consider you for a class project. They are usually happy to give you referrals to recent graduates or a senior student.

7. Suggestions to experiment with:
That graphic art print on your box would make a great T-shirt. I'd buy that for my son if I were to send him a box.
Add something to your line up that has PREMIUM in the description - the right words have an impact. (You could add a T-shirt or a toy black bear or a book with hiking trails ... two of those mugs that keep everything hot or cold for hours - I'd take one of those Olympia beers just to see the slogan again "It's the water:) .. or a guide to local craft breweries)
Limited time offer buy two get third one 50% off - same or smaller size. Try variations of this and see what works.
The second order of corporate boxes receives a free T-shirt with your graphic logo - you could do a tan/light brown T-shirt with a pocket and have the logo only on that pocket...
Offer a 10% military discount as a promo for 4th of July or the holidays. How about a 10% AARP discount - get on their list of businesses offering discounts - free advertising for you.

One last observation, small websites can look stale or practically abandoned rather quick. To let people see immediately that you are active and up to date - reflect a holiday - a static fireworks explosion at the top of your page for the Fourth - a promo announcement - a new product announcement -  a black bear, sports team win etc. when you've got nothing else.
 Just something visual to change out often so that people know you are constantly involved.

Think of it as a potential customers experience  - a ten on the products and a ten for the feel of the website and all the other pages - a five on the lackluster product presentation and sequence on the main page. I do love that salmon picture and your decision to donate to their habitat.       
Good luck going forward.

All around well thought out website and products, Kudos! I'll keep you in mind for my Christmas shopping this year.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #58 on: July 02, 2018, 09:03:18 PM »
@v8rx7guy

Well, cranky ole lady here:) You invited critique and I have a couple of bones to pick, but first I will say that I love the website as such - perfectly in sync with my expectations of Washington State - love the slideshow pics, pleasing to the eye, color choices and the graphic on the box are spot-on with the "feelings" associated with Washington state. 

1. The first thing I noticed is $5.95 flat rate shipping all in red letters - big turn off since it is a reminder before I've even considered buying a thing. Just show it right underneath your price in the same color as your price - it's reasonable - a lot of us old ladies are used to online shopping networks charging 4.95 and 7.95.
Yes, I saw where someone else said the shipping fee was missing, but:)... You could also show the $5.95 flat rate shipping right by each merchandise and cardboard box, that way it is easy to find, but not front and center.
Just approach it as if it is normal to charge for shipping - Amazon might spoil us all, but people do understand that thankfully not everything is part of the Amazon universe.

2. Next, I see - What's Washington in a Box? and I'm curious for an answer - which isn't there. Instead, it says "Are you ready ..." and only in the second paragraph do you tell me what it's all about. Just switch those paragraphs for a natural flow.

3. Followed by - Build a box ??? - why am I seeing cardboard boxes? What am I building? - Where is the merchandise? - I might like to see the merchandise before I'm shown blank cardboard boxes, right?:)
Took me another irritating second to finally scroll down and see the actual merchandise. Not good.
The more enticing and intuitive flow would be to show the merchandise choices first and cardboard boxes in the very last row instead. Just switch your sequence.

4. Showing three rows of cardboard boxes is overwhelming - two rows are sufficient. Half the landing page filled with pictures of cardboard boxes is not appealing. Move the featured boxes into the second row and here is where you can utilize that red ink:) to set them apart.

5. I do love the crate for corporate and parties. It is where the money is, so it only makes sense to make it more prominent by showing it as the first item in the first cardboard row. It shouldn't be mixed into the second row - it should have the cash cow importance as the first option in the first row.
You may want to spotlight it during the holidays.

Consider adding a crate at the very top of the page to draw immediate attention to it. Clearly identify it as corporate-party box right next to those first two boxes with your cool graphic/logo on the box.

6. Now that I've re-arranged your landing page by eliminating the third row of cardboard boxes - you have space for what someone else already suggested - an entire row of smiling people opening up your fabulous gift boxes.

Like a box as a hotel welcome gift - talk to a few local hotels or even a B&B - ask them about staging a photo shoot in their establishment.
... and/or show a corporate environment surprising say Asian clients with gifts from Washington State (whatever might connect with the global business world in Washington State).
... and/or a guy opening a box right next to his hiking gear (he could be wearing a Seattle sports team shirt or a T-shirt like that graphic logo on your box).
It's good to put suggestions in people's minds and the all American girl or hot outdoorsy looking guy always sell well:) 

7. Things that make a difference and escalate profit: Glossy and slick sells!
Professional product shoots and a photo story/ad shoot are basically a one time expense - refresh once a year. The site looks slightly unpolished - but only and of all things - when it comes to the pictures of your products. Major fail - to attract.
 
If you want to save a bit of money - contact a local photography school or media/design institute for recommendations or ask the teacher/institute/college if they would consider you for a class project. They are usually happy to give you referrals to recent graduates or a senior student.

7. Suggestions to experiment with:
That graphic art print on your box would make a great T-shirt. I'd buy that for my son if I were to send him a box.
Add something to your line up that has PREMIUM in the description - the right words have an impact. (You could add a T-shirt or a toy black bear or a book with hiking trails ... two of those mugs that keep everything hot or cold for hours - I'd take one of those Olympia beers just to see the slogan again "It's the water:) .. or a guide to local craft breweries)
Limited time offer buy two get third one 50% off - same or smaller size. Try variations of this and see what works.
The second order of corporate boxes receives a free T-shirt with your graphic logo - you could do a tan/light brown T-shirt with a pocket and have the logo only on that pocket...
Offer a 10% military discount as a promo for 4th of July or the holidays. How about a 10% AARP discount - get on their list of businesses offering discounts - free advertising for you.

One last observation, small websites can look stale or practically abandoned rather quick. To let people see immediately that you are active and up to date - reflect a holiday - a static fireworks explosion at the top of your page for the Fourth - a promo announcement - a new product announcement -  a black bear, sports team win etc. when you've got nothing else.
 Just something visual to change out often so that people know you are constantly involved.

Think of it as a potential customers experience  - a ten on the products and a ten for the feel of the website and all the other pages - a five on the lackluster product presentation and sequence on the main page. I do love that salmon picture and your decision to donate to their habitat.       
Good luck going forward.

All around well thought out website and products, Kudos! I'll keep you in mind for my Christmas shopping this year.

Wow... these are Fantastic ideas!  Thank you for taking the time to type all of this up.  I am definitely going to work on integrating a bunch of these ideas and suggestions over the next few weeks.

Mon€yp€nny

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #59 on: July 08, 2018, 04:46:36 PM »
Looks good and a good idea.
I think a lot of customers will appreciate that you let them pick the contents of the box but there are also people that will want to buy something quick and easy.
Could you create themed boxes and offer those? Maybe come up with funny or catching names. Something for men, ladies, a date box, movie box, sweet things, Washington's finest food box,  etc. A box for people that are getting married to someone from Washington etc etc.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #60 on: November 18, 2018, 10:57:20 AM »
Hi again everyone.  I am so grateful that so many of you spent time to take a look at and critique my website, it's so valuable to have strangers give meaningful feedback!  I spent some time on the site this month gearing up for what I hope is another big Christmas sales season.  I incorporated a lot of you all's feedback, so I hope the site has improved since last year:

www.washingtoninabox.com


Any new feedback? 

tralfamadorian

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #61 on: November 18, 2018, 11:54:44 AM »
It looks great! You made so many great changes.

A few suggestions:
-Put the pre-chosen boxes above the select your own on the front page.
-Name the best seller boxes instead of #1 and #2.
-Instead of a pin map of where your customers are from, I expected a pin map of where in the state your items are from. I think that would be more useful information for your customers.
-In the What's in a Box page, could you separate out the items by category?

v8rx7guy

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #62 on: November 18, 2018, 05:43:02 PM »
It looks great! You made so many great changes.

A few suggestions:
-Put the pre-chosen boxes above the select your own on the front page.
I think I am going to keep the build a box options higher on the page - they are my higher profit margin choices and also what sets me apart from my competitors.

-Name the best seller boxes instead of #1 and #2.
I think you make a good point on the Best Seller Boxes - I hate to be to gender specific, but maybe "Best Sellers for Him" and "Best Sellers for Her" might be a better Description?

-Instead of a pin map of where your customers are from, I expected a pin map of where in the state your items are from. I think that would be more useful information for your customers.
I think the location of manufacture pin map is a fantastic Idea.  I wonder if I could make a screen shot of the map with a flag where the item is made as one of the pictures for each item... will look into this!

-In the What's in a Box page, could you separate out the items by category?
Unfortunately, No... not with my current Shopify Scheme

Thank you! My thoughts are in Bold.

rulesforrebels

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #63 on: November 26, 2018, 10:31:51 AM »
I'd suggest actually putting together a corporate box. Corporate gifts are huge business and due to the nature of your business companies in Washington would likely give these as gifts to clients but honestly nobody has the time to contact you, wait for you to get back to them, then discuss what goes in a box. Have an offering they can actually click and buy immediately.

AlexMar

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #64 on: November 28, 2018, 05:31:19 AM »
Hi again everyone.  I am so grateful that so many of you spent time to take a look at and critique my website, it's so valuable to have strangers give meaningful feedback!  I spent some time on the site this month gearing up for what I hope is another big Christmas sales season.  I incorporated a lot of you all's feedback, so I hope the site has improved since last year:

www.washingtoninabox.com


Any new feedback?

Not much about it I would change.  The Corporate Gifts idea is great and maybe expand on that with just some boxes in a few price ranges.  If I landed on a contact form, I would personally leave.

Otherwise, the site is good and it's a matter of whether there is a market for it.  Most of your effort is probably going to be in marketing at this point.

rulesforrebels

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Re: Critique my new side gig website?
« Reply #65 on: November 28, 2018, 02:44:18 PM »
I agree, OP, or anyone else running an eCommerce store should make the process of giving you money as easy and painless as possible, that means streamlining your checkout process and in the case of the corporate gifts, secretaries and office managers are probably even busier than your average online shopper so having to contact you to hear back about options to then make a decision people are just gonna leave, however if you had a corporate package that someone could buy with a couple clicks I think that would turn into a huge percent of your sales. Companies in Washington could make you there go to corporate gift spot ie here's something from our state.