Finally, Eric broke silence to reveal a nearly-completed website. (It had taken him 99 hours to reach that point, btw). I recruited all of my friends and relatives to stress-test the site on Monday, Nov. 21. I got 13 orders that night totaling over $800, as well as lots of valuable feedback. The prevailing opinion said I didn’t have enough merchandise, so I redoubled my ordering despite having spent my whole pre-opening budget.
That’s when the crickets started chirping.
I’d thought that search engine results would bring at least a little traffic my way, but day after day went by without any sales. I didn’t appreciate, yet, how hard it would be to make my site come up in keyword searches – a challenge that I still haven’t solved.
I sent an e-mail blast to everyone that I knew, and got one more order out of it. I found a site (Addynamix) that let me create a cheesy banner ad and run it for $99. Some software glitch prevented my banner from running for nearly a week. As of Dec. 4, I still had no business at all. I started reading up on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, but I was paralyzed into inaction by the complexity and anticipated cost.
At about this time, my sister approached us, in need of some money. She’s at least as web-savvy as I am, so I drafted her to get a handle on PPC advertising for me. That worked out. It was an expensive learning experience, and the clicks were costing me dearly, but I did finally start getting some sales. I had only the most rudimentary traffic information from Navigator’s Webalyzer program. When I complained to Rip, he set me up for AwStats. At last, I was seeing some solid information about my visitors. Alas, AwStats contained a security weakness that allowed someone to attack Navigator’s server; Rip withdrew the tool after only three days. I was back to working in the dark.
Then, on Christmas Eve, the server went down entirely. I had been disappointed with its uptime so far, and this holiday crash was the last straw. With Eric’s help, I moved to MochaHost by Dec. 31. I'm still there. Rip graciously still gives the Kraken Enterprises homepage free hosting at Navigator.
My first Christmas brought in about $1,800 in sales. This December, I will more than double that amount.
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