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.
Friday, April 08, 2016
Did PayPal Finally Manage to Kill Me?
This is Curio City's worst week since...well, ever. I should be doing around $600 a week. The first week of April last year nearly doubled that; this week might not even crack $100. You'd have to go back to 2007 to find a week that didn't break $100.
All systems, including daily traffic, look nominal; in fact, considerable ad tweaking has got visits up to 200+ per day, which ought to be reliably delivering two to four sales. People either just don't want what I'm selling or they don't want to buy it from me...or else there's something wrong with my website.
Yesterday a woman called to order one of my last five Eagle kites. Telephone sales are ordinarily a nuisance but I welcomed this opportunity to double this week's anemic sales. Her credit card was declined. Uh-oh...we know that PayPal's been trying to kill me for years; did they finally succeed? My site passed inspection, and it turned out that the lady had given me an inaccurate card number. Unfortunately, the corrected number was also declined, this time for an invalid CVV code. She swears that it's accurate, and maybe it is: The payment gateway, not PayPal, is rejecting the transaction. I tried bypassing my site by using PayPal's virtual terminal with no joy. I tried turning off the CVV requirement -- nope. Another test transaction went through just fine again. But a test transaction placed by me through my site on my computer using my credit card isn't a super-valid real-world test.
I have no idea what's going on. Checkout trouble would explain it. I'm not seeing that, but getting just one legitimate transaction would make me feel better (it's been two days without any). If things don't turn around very quickly then this will be my final death spiral. I'm only going deeper into debt while I can't even cover daily expenses, and debt is the killer.
Constant Contact is raising their price from $16 to $22 per month. I was already thinking about canceling it at the old price. The six newsletters that I publish in a year effectively cost me $32 each (plus the trivial value of my time). Each issue produces zero to two sales, usually discounted. There is probably some small value in having a mailing list and insinuating myself into people's mailboxes periodically, but I don't know if that's worth $192 a year, much less $264. Is learning their new interface worth the bother or should I just pull the plug now?
I'm going to crank out a couple of newsletters over the next two weeks and let the response to those determine whether there'll be any more after that.