Day 1

Domain Name:

The first item on the agenda was what we would name the business. While in the past we would have wanted to include the primary keyword (pocket watches) in the domain name, we lean more towards branding these days. For some reason, the name “Fob & Co” came into my head. This is almost certainly because I grew up in a town called Toowoomba, and they have the “Cobb & Co” museum, which is about the history of a successful stage coach company in Australia which operated from the 1850s to the 1920s. Given that “fob watches” is one of our primary keywords (just another name for a pocket watch), the era and the feeling it engendered seemed right for the brand.

I had a chat to Tess about it, and she liked it as well, and so I went and registered the domain name fobandco.com.au. I also looked at the searches in New Zealand, and while there weren’t that many (maybe 1000 if you included the top three keywords), it’s very easy in future to duplicate our site, and change the text to create another stream of income, given that NZ is so easy for us to ship to. While we won’t do this straight away, we registered fobandco.co.nz in preparation.

Logo:

Once we had the name and domain, it was off to fiverr.com to order a logo. I did a seach for “vintage logos” and went through the examples given by many of the providers before finding one that I thought would work. I ordered the gig, with a 2 day estimated time for delivery. I wanted to get it as quickly as possible, as we wouldn’t be able to order packaging, warranty cards, or do a lot of the web design until we had that logo.

Product:

It wouldn’t be much of an ecommerce store without product to sell, so it was straight to Aliexpress to see if we could find what we wanted. Based on our competition research, I really wanted to get started with at least 100 different pocket watch designs. Fortunately, unlike some other niches we’ve started, there seemed to be a couple of particularly strong options, with great feedback, and lots of designs. I started contacting some of them to get a current stock list of what they had. While we could have ordered straight from Aliexpress, we always ask a question first to see how long it takes them to reply, and how good their English language skills are, as this can affect how a long term relationship might play out.

One in particular got back very quickly, and was particularly helpful. We found that some of their designs had other brand names on the watch face, and we didn’t want any of those (as we want to build our own brand eventually). So we asked the supplier to send through a list of all of their higher quality, metal, mechanical pocket watches that didn’t have a brand name on them.

Research:

We also started researching the product itself. Was there a difference between pocket watches and fob watches? What was a half hunter pocket watch versus a full hunter pocket watch? Could many of the searches actually be nurses looking for a nurse fob watch? What was a mechanical watch versus a quartz pocket watch? It doesn’t actually take that long to learn about any given product, and become more knowledgable than most. If you want to dominate a particular niche, you need to know more about the product than your customers – this is what makes you an expert.

Day 2

Packaging:

Never having packaged a pocket watch before, it was time to figure out how we would do it. It is kind of an awkward shaped product, but presentation is everything if you want to get that higher profit margin. We first went to a jewellery packaging supplier in Australia to see if we could get something quickly, but they didn’t have anything that would cater for this product specifically. They did have a bracelet jewellery box though that might do the trick, so we got a sample on its way.

Next stop was Aliexpress to see if there was anything there. We found a metal tin, a leatherette box, and a very cool looking leather look pocket watch case from different suppliers, and we bought one of each to get them on their way too. I would have preferred to get them express shipped, but the express shipping cost was exorbitant, so these might take a while to arrive.

Hosting/SSL/Website:

Time to get the “bones” of the website up and running. We organised hosting as well as an SSL certifcate for the site, and installed WordPress from the cpanel. We also setup email addresses for the business (we use Google Apps for Domain, so it involves changing mx records in cpanel).

Once this was done, it was time to login to WordPress and start installing plugins. Here is a list of what we installed on this day:

Woocommerce;
ithemes security;
w3 total cache;
updraftplus backup;
Yoast SEO;
ninja popups;
Favicon Generator;
404 redirect to homepage;
Stripe;
Paypal;
Contact Form 7;
Insert HTML Snippet;
Kwayy HTML Sitemap;
Mailchimp for Woocommerce;
Woochimp;
QuickieBar;
Recover Abandoned Cart;
SEO Smart Links;
SSL Insecure Content Fixer;
Woocommerce Email Customizer;
Woocommerce Infinite Scroll and Ajax Pagination;
Woocommerce Paypal Express.

There will be a few more to come later, but these were enough to get started. We also started playing around a bit with colours for the site, but until we have logos, banners and products, it’s difficult to do much more to the site.

Content:

We tend not to waste too much time generating content that people won’t ever read, but given that there is a lot of history behind this product (and that history is an integral part of the branding), we also organised someone to research and write a 1000 word article on the history of pocket watches, including sections that involve all of our primary keywords like pocket watches, fob watches, and nurse watches, as well as some other interesting topics like the origin of hunter and half-hunter pocket watches. We gave the writer a deadline of the end of the week (which would be Day 5).

Email List:

To setup the Mailchimp plugins (we use two, woochimp to automatically subscribe during checkout, and a second to sync up our popup list with customer list) we first need to setup our lists in Mailchimp. At this point, we just setup the lists, so that we can use the Mailchimp API to connect the plugins to the correct email lists.

Website:

We also started setting up some basic elements like main product categories, contact us page, About Us page, main menu, home page with some text and a title with our primary keyword in H1 header tags. We also added a footer with some basic informational text.

SEO:

In addition to the H1 tags and text on the homepage, we also added a title to our homepage (Pocket Watches, Fob Watches, Nurse Watches by Fob & Co.). We also setup SEO Smart Links, so that any time our primary keywords are mentioned thoughout the site, they link back to the relevant categories on the site. The only exception being “Pocket Watches” and “Fob Watches” which both link back to the homepage (as these are what we want the homepage to rank for).

Day 3

Abandoned Cart Sequence:

After setting up the Recover Abandoned Cart plugin yesterday, I went to work on doing our standard three day abandoned cart sequence. If someone adds an item to their cart, then goes to checkout and enters their email address, but doesn’t complete the order, here’s what will happen:

24 hours later they will get an email saying that we miss them, and also asking if their were any technical problems with completing their order. They’ll also be given a link directly to their abandoned cart to complete it.

3 days after abandoning (if they didn’t complete the order from the previous email), they’ll receive an email that offers them a smaller discount to complete the order within 24 hours of receiving this email.

7 days after abandoning (if they didn’t complete the order from either of the previous emails) they’ll receive an email that offers them a final larger discount to complete the order.

These emails will also eventually include testimonials once we have them.

Logo:

The provider asked if they could have one more day to complete the logo which we agreed to reluctantly.

Products:

We finally came up with a list of the products that we wanted, including express shipping to Australia. It came to a total of 118 products. Normally we would organise a sample first, but in this case their feedback was so good (including feedback from Australians and New Zealanders – our target markets), that we started with a larger order. The other reason we were happy to do this is that they were happy for us to make the order through Aliexpress, which keeps the payment in escrow until we receive the order and are happy with it. We’ve never lost an Aliexpress dispute, so we consider it one of the safest ways to buy product from a new supplier. They also gave us around 30% off their Aliexpress prices without even asking, which was also great. With the product chosen and paid for, we had our initial range on its way. Fingers crossed it’s as good as it looks!

Analytics:

Setup Google Analytics for the site (using Enhanced Ecommerce Tracking).

Day 4

Logo:

The logo has arrived finally, and it’s… okay. It’s maybe a little “busier” than we’d hoped, so we simplified it a bit ourselves and are happy with it – for now. We showed the provider and ordered the revised logo as a vector image. The vector image (usually a .eps or a .ai file) is a type of image that you can increase the size of without losing any quality, and is usually required for printing the logo onto packaging and other printed materials. The provider delivered this almost immediately.

Photographer:

While the initial order isn’t due for another week (even with express shipping, there is still the product handling and inspection time), we gave our photographer a heads up that they were on the way, and started the conversation about what style of product shots we want. That way as soon as the products arrive, they can be sent to the photographer and be sorted as soon as possible.

Product Descriptions Writer:

We also reached out to a writer to see if they would be available/interested in writing the product titles/descriptions. We also mention that they would need to be done quite quickly to give them a sense of urgency.

Bags:

Armed with out new logo, we also sent an email off to get a quote for 100 calico bags with drawstring (with the new logo printed on it). We’re a big fan of using calico bags as they can still give a “vintage premium” feel, and don’t get crushed in the post like paper/cardboard bags do.

Popup Email Series:

The new logo also means that we can setup our popup email series. This is where when someone comes to the site for the first time, there’s a 15 second delay before a popup comes up that asks them if they’d like $20 off their first order. If they sign up, they immediately get a coupon code via email, then get a reminder email 24 hours later.

Customise Emails:

Woocommerce’s default emails look pretty average, so we use an email customiser plugin to make them look prettier, which we can now do with the new logo.

Marketing:

Now that we’re waiting for everything else, it’s time to start thinking about a marketing strategy. We don’t like to start PPC (like Google Adwords and Facebook Ads) until we’re relatively confident that we can convert the traffic well, otherwise you just burn through money. SEO on the other hand, we can get started as soon as product is on the site. We just need to start figuring out who will give us blog posts about pocket watches…. that might be a bit more tricky.

Day 6

Put the article up “Pocket Watches – A Brief History”