Welcome to Curious Business

Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, November 28, 2014


A $1,600 kite sale for a Thanksgiving parade couldn't save this month from being the worst November since 2006. After getting a healthy six sales a day last week it dropped to one on Sunday and never broke two again until Wednesday. Thursday was slightly better and a $500 Switchables order this morning made up for some of the early grief, although it cleaned out most of my Christmas designs.  

So...is Black Friday bringing the fabled black ink? Nope. November just tipped into the plus column by $8, but the year is still $4,600 in the red. Read 'em and weep:


Total income: -20.1%
Total COGS: -21.1%
Payroll: -23.1%
Marketing: -15.8%
Net Income (Profit): +102.4% (+$340)

Year to Date

Total income: -0.8%
Total COGS: +16.7%
Payroll: -32.9%
Marketing: -3.3%
Net Income (Profit): +52.2% (+$5,073)

I briefly thought that my Metal Earth gamble was paying off after getting three Metal Earth sales in the first two days after I set them up. Granted, two of those were to friends who got free shipping on Star Wars models. But nope: I've had only two more sales since then. My Metal Earth ads are getting 20-30 clicks a day, but nobody's buying. 

My old mainstay, Panther Vision, barely has a pulse. Beanies were supposed to be the Next Big Thing...nope. At least I don't see anybody blatantly outcompeting me. Although some sellers beat my price by a buck, they don't beat my selection, and the cheap prices are for inferior 2-LED caps. 

Analytics says I'm getting 200-250 unique visitors a day -- not great, but not terrible. Virtually all of them got here by keyword matches, either through natural search or clicking on an ad, so they're motivated shoppers. It's prime gift-giving season and I have tons of appropriate products, many of them time-tested. My website is working fine. I don't think it's ugly or hard to use. My historical 2% conversion rate should be closer to 3% this month. Yet I ran at a truly dismal 0.5 to 1% the first half of this week. I did $1,800 on Thanksgiving week LY...this year is struggling to top $1,000.  

Everything looks fine both statistically and subjectively...so what's wrong? I don't even have a good theory.

Yesterday I pulled out all the stops with a 20% off coupon for $50+ AND free shipping for $75+. I'll barely break even on any orders that take advantage of both promotions. None have, yet. I don't know what else to try. 

At least I don't think that PayPal will kill me after all. People who are smarter than me say that my encryption is fine and my SSL certificate has nothing to do with anything, despite what a PayPal customer service flunky said. AFAIK he was just uninformed. I'll find out all too soon.

Oh well, enough hand-wringing. The rubber decisively meets the road today, Black Friday, and things are finally perking up a little. As usual, it all comes down to December.

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