Today’s interview with Andrew Youderian features a guy who has found success in the traditional way of making money on the internet: selling physical products online (e-commerce).
With Amazon and other large retailers dominating this space, it’s amazing to hear stories about the people who still find a way to be successful.
Not only did Andrew find a way to be successful with e-commerce, but he (spoiler alert) recently sold one of his sites for $185,000. Not bad.
This interview is actually a pretty quick read (compared to some of our others), but believe me, there is still a lot of great information here.
I won’t spoil anything else – check out the interview!
(As always, questions from The Daily Interview are in bold.)
Andrew, I’m a huge fan of your content at eCommerceFuel, and your story is pretty remarkable. Everything from quitting your corporate job, to recently selling your e-commerce site for $185,000 – it’s all very inspiring.
Tell us a bit more about yourself and your journey – what led to you quitting your corporate job, and what types of projects are you focused on today within your online business?
My corporate job out of school in finance was great for learning, but in terms of a work/life balance, it was pretty terrible. So fairly quickly I decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do.
I saved up for 18 months or so and then quit, without being quite sure what I wanted to do, and eventually made my way into eCommerce as I like the opportunity it offered for a location independent business.
Today, I focus on running my remaining online store – Right Channel Radios – and on eCommerceFuel. Particularly with eCommerceFuel, I’m focused on growing and developing the private forum, which is a curated community for established eCommerce professionals and store owners.
Although The Daily Interview focuses on all types of internet entrepreneur businesses, we have a special interest in blogging.
I know blogging may not be the prime focus of your business, but what has your blog (and podcast) at eCommerceFuel done for you? What role does it play in your overall business?
Writing the blog has helped me develop myself as an authority in the eCommerce space and connect with store owners, bloggers and other influencers. It’s an incredible platform for connecting and building a brand and a voice if you’re committed to consistently writing.
The podcast is younger (just about 6 months old), so that’s harder to say.
But I think it helps strengthen the rapport I have with my existing listeners and readers. There’s something really personal about listening to someone speak, and when someone is willing to listen to you for 30 minutes each week they feel like they get to know you.
Even the most successful people stumble along the way. What do you consider to be your biggest failure with respect to your online business, and what did you learn from it?
The launch and marketing of TrollingMotors.net, my second site. I made a number of mistakes but the biggest two were outsourcing my SEO and spending too much on a snazzy design before I really understood the niche.
Ultimately, the SEO work led to Google penalizing my site and I was forced to re-design the website from the ground up.
I wrote an entire case study on it which you can read here:
Let’s take a step back and look more generally at e-commerce. If you had to take your best advice and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be?
Commit to putting all your time and energy into one business for the first year before you even think about starting up a second store or venture.
Too many people get distracted and don’t spend enough time to really establish their business. It takes, at a minimum, a year of consistent work to really get an eCommerce store on the map and doing well in most cases.
Often, it’s easy to think “I’ll just create two and double my chances of success”, when in actuality this is just dividing your efforts and decreasing the chances you’ll succeed.
What are your favorite online resources?
I really like the Moz.com blog and Pro tools – I’ve been a member for a long time.
I also love Asana, and use it for most of my project management and task tracking.
As for reading, I regularly visit the Shopify Blog, the Help Scout Blog, DrewSanocki.com, GetElastic.com and the Wistia blog. All good stuff.
For someone who is just starting out and wants to start an e-commerce business, what advice do you have? What do you wish someone told you about when you first started?
If you have some experience with online marketing and a bit of capital to invest, I’d recommend trying to create a brand and build your own product. That’s really where I see the future of small independent eCommerce.
It’s possible to successfully resell existing products, but you need to have a VERY solid plan of how you’ll compete with giants like Amazon who offer low prices, free shipping and are trusted by just about everyone.
By creating your own brand and product, you’ll be able to control distribution and pricing and won’t have to compete on price with thousands of merchants. When you have your own brand, all of a sudden Amazon becomes an attractive sales channel you can leverage vs. a competitor to fear.
That’s a great point about reselling – you almost have to be perfect today, on razor-thin margins, to compete with the big e-commerce giants. Where do you see the future of your business headed? Do you plan to eventually open some kind of store with products of your own?
In the short term, I plan to optimize my existing sites as there’s a lot left I haven’t had the chance to do.
But for the future of my business and next ventures, I absolutely plan to head down the path of creating my own proprietary product. I think it’s increasingly the best way to build a business that’s viable in the long-term and has the best chance of being meaningfully profitable.
Finally, where can people find you online?
The best place to connect with me is at eCommerceFuel.com and via my Podcast (The eCommerceFuel Podcast) which you can subscribe to via iTunes or the link below. You can also follow me on twitter via @youderian.
Thanks so much Andrew for giving us some insight into the world of e-commerce.
Have you ever dabbled in e-commerce before? How did it go? Leave a comment and let me know!