Increasing Online Profits Further

One business I own and openly talk about is House Of Rave .com.
It has consistently made between $800$1,000 every month for the last five years. I particularly like this business because it’s extremly simple to run and I have no inventory.

I’ve been very satisfied doing a minimal amount of work on House of Rave and making a few hundred dollars a month, but I am graduating this December and will have more time to focus on my businesses. I recently set out some Forecasted Goals for HoR and how I would go about accomplishing higher profits.

On September 2005, I set my sights to start breaking the $1,000 barrier per month by years
end. In October I beat my forecast and brought in $1,120. In November I beat my expected forecast, bringing in an HoR record of $1,630. This increase in sales seems to be directly related to the changes I’ve made to make HoR look more consistent and have faster customer support.

My actual income for November 2005 was higher than $1,630, and I report the actual figure on my tax statements. However, I always understate my profits so I don’t withdraw all of it from the HoR account. This is because online stores tend to surprise you down the road. For example, I may bring in a $200 order today which gets charged back for 3 months down the line. Since I understate what I can withdraw from my business account, I have extra cushioning building up for those surprise expenses.

The good thing about the business is I don’t have any inventory, I’ve had a great dropshipper in California who does all of that. The negative side is I haven’t seen 99% of the stuff I sell. To increase sales of already popular products, I’ve been ordering my own products and doing photoshoots with my ghetto photo studio.

I’m currently taking pictures, videos and writing my own descriptions for many of these products. I will keep adding 1 or 2 a week when time permits.

I did a photoshoot, video and instructional post on this Scrolling LED Message Belt Buckle. The photos were taken in my room and edited with Photoshop. The video was also taken in my apartment.

A customer emailed me while I was doing the photoshoot saying she had lost the buckle programming instructions, so I decided to make a full instruction manual for the customers. The original instructions are a little hard to use and have some confusing grammar, so this should help people out.

The video I took of the belt buckle features the now World Famous Crotch of Neville Medhora:

Another product I enjoyed playing around with were the Ultra High Intensity Glowsticks. It’s like a regular glowstick but they burn themselves out within 5 minutes. I ordered these to see how bright they were. I took some photos and two videos demonstrating the brightness.

The first video shows the cracking of an ultra bright glowstick, and the second video shows my skills at swinging glowsticks. I can’t afford real actors or anyone with talent, so I enlisted one of my roommates as camera man and shot the videos myself. This was a zero budget production, so I had to settle for that! I simply used my Casio Exilim for filming.

The last product I’ve recently updated was the Glow Paint I carry.


I added some nice before/after shots to show the effect and give HoR a free plug.

There are several reasons I am adding my own content:
  • Search Engines. A good amount of unique content on a page helps higher positioning.
  • Branding. House Of Rave needs to become more engrained in customers minds.
  • Customer Comfort. The customer must know that HoR is a real business, and unique content should help. This is especially important for online retailers.
  • More Information. The customer can get a better idea of what a product is with additional forms of media and descriptions not found anywhere else.

Hopefully enhancing the product pages with unique content will help increase profits in the long run. I see no reason why HoR cannot be a $5,000 p/month part time business by the end of 2006.

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    Blog posted on: December 6, 2005

    25 comments on “Increasing Online Profits Further

    1. Anonymous

      Website menu of HoR on the top of page is not properly formated in the firefox and opera. The menu is centered but the rest of the page isn’t. It makes the page look weird. Just a notice. Good luck with your business.

      Reply
    2. weary

      It’s pretty cool to get a glimpse inside one of these small businesses. Usually most people will not reveal their methods, finances etc. to a small group of people, nevertheless on a big blog!

      Keep the updates coming, I’m trying to start up my own online biz at the moment.

      Reply
    3. Anonymous

      People would kill to have a side business like that. It’s good to see you trying to expand it. It’s much easier to expand than create.

      Reply
    4. Neville

      Anon,

      These figures are my profit after expenses. I brought in about $5,190 total. About $1,620 was profit.

      Approx. 30% of what I bring in is pure profit.

      Reply
    5. dbizman

      would you mind sharing how you started the business or is that too much of a secret? i’m interested in knowing did you find the dropshipper and thought it would be easy and profitable to create a website or did you originally plan on going into ecommerce and then looked for profitable dropshippers?

      Reply
    6. Neville

      Dbizman,

      Here is the quick story:

      –I wanted to learn about Ecommerce in high school, so I decided to start an online business. This was one of my little money experiments.

      –I read every piece of information on Ecommerce I could find for 3 months.

      –I listed 200 – 300 different products on a sheet of paper. Guitars, drums, lamps, phones, pens etc…anything I could think of. I also listed different industries like resume writing, proof reading, credit card processing. I then scratched off each idea that had TOO MANY competitors. I then scratched off ideas that I thought would be impossible or too expensive.

      I eventually wound up with club/rave items. It was a small niche market, and there were few competitors with decent sites. Most of the other competitors had horrible sites. I knew I could do better.

      –I started a Bank of America checking account with $200 in birthday money. My dad co-signed because I was under 18 at the time. I knew I would at least need a bank account before I could start an online business.

      –I called every company that supplied club/rave items. I got rejected at TONS of them before I found one that accepted my offer.

      –I signed up for a merchant account which cost me $200 upfront.

      –I got my first order soon after I had the site running, and had no idea what to do with it! I had jumped in the world of Ecommerce quickly, but I learned quickly also.

      If I had taken the time to FULLY understand every facet of online sales, I don’t think I would have ever started the business.

      Reply
    7. Anonymous

      nev,

      i want to get into selling an item (I won’t mention the exact item here), but let’s say I want to find a drop shipper for it. most of the drop shipping directory sites out there are sleazy. how should I go about finding their information in order to call them?

      thx

      Reply
    8. Jonathan Radande

      Hey nev, you have a beautiful side business that has the ultimate potention to explode beyond your wildest dreams. I cannot believe that you do not do any type of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for this site.

      If only you increased the number of sites pointing to yours, you will see a dramatic increase in visitors, and you know that more visitors = more sales.

      I too started an online business 4 years ago. No dropshipping, no inventory, and lots of profits.

      Reply
    9. Deron

      I’ve thought about starting some kind of ecommerce store also, but I’m curious here. When you say you called a ton of places that supply club/rave items and got rejected, what exactly did you ask them places? Just to see if you could buy their products in bulk at a discount to sell online or what?

      Once you make a sale, do you ship it out, or do you process it and then someone else ships it? How does that work?

      Reply
    10. Chris O.

      Does anyone know a FREE site that lists dropshippers? When you search for a dropshipper using Google or another SE, all the links I get back are always to some site that SELLS you access to dropshippers’ information.

      I didn’t think it’d be too hard to find a dropshipper. After all, I’d be selling their inventory for them, sheesh!

      Any ideas guys? Should I just start calling places like Nev?

      Hey Nev, question for you: does your dropshipper dropship for other people too? I don’t want to try competing with you by selling rave products, but you’re never really clear on how you got them to work with you. You make it sound like you cut some deal–”accepted my offer”, but I’m highly skeptical that any company that doesn’t already dropship would setup a dropshipping account just for you. So what’s the deal? Did you finally happen to call a place that dropships rave products, or will you have us believe that a high school youngster with no prior ecommerce experience had a company bend over backwards for him to attempt selling their products?

      Reply
    11. sam

      There are other candidates for rising profits on HoR rather than just your improvements. I think there’s at least a partial correlation here.

      1) Traffic directed from your blog. I’d say a fair few people pass through here, in part because of various news articles.

      2) Your blog has a decent google pagerank, so linking to HoR is good for your google rankings, traffic and therefore profit.

      curious path

      Reply
    12. Jesse

      Conversion from blog readers on HoR is probably dismally low. Traffic probably increased once Nev started talking about it, but that does not necessariliy mean profit increased.

      Reply
    13. Neville

      Chris O,

      I basically called every place that had products remotely similar to what I wanted to sell and asked them if they had a drop shipping plan, or if they could create one.

      I got lucky with one finally who did at the time do some drop shipping for some other businesses, and they agreed to do it for me.

      I’m to this day not sure if my supplier drop shipped the same products I sell at the time, but they do now for several other businesses.

      As for converting NevBlog users into buyers, that is a bit difficult. That might even be a bit difficult as I’ve revealed in other post comments who my supplier is and their website.

      Besides, the best people to go after are the ones searching for SPECIFIC products on the internet. If I am the first search engine result, THAT is a high probability sale.

      December profits are coming along nicely!
      -Nev

      Reply
    14. Anonymous

      Nev, I went through your site like I was a customer. I didn’t really want/need anything from hor, but yes, the added pictures and videos really give a better perspective of what I would be buying. Great job and good advice for other businesses, small AND big.

      Reply
    15. Anonymous

      ClubThings.com

      Now everybody can copy his success. It took me three minutes to find his dropshipper for these products.

      Reply
    16. dgw

      Hey Neville-

      Just stumbled upon this place…really great advice all-around.

      Just a few thoughts of constructive criticism, since I know you’re looking to increase sales for House of Rave…as a visual designer, I think one way to do that might be with looking at the presentation and design of the site I think you’re totally on the right track with the videos, blog and glo-stick stuff. But overall, the presentation of the site seems low-quality and homemade, especially when compared to the bigger shopping sites.

      I’m sure with your connections that you know someone who is freakin’ awesome with graphic design, particularly web design, and I’d argue it’s totally worth it to do a graphic overhaul of HOR.

      First, the logo…while the name is catchy, the symbol is not memorable. You want your brand to stick in these people’s heads and keep them coming back. Maybe that’s incorporating a lightstick (tastefully animated?) into one of the letters, or a simple, memorable symbol that merges a house and rave culture somehow. Heck, if it’s cool enough you could stick it on a tee-shirt of its own and people would buy it (maybe with something to catch their attention, like a glow-in-the-dark design on a black tee).

      After that, a clearer layout would definitely increase sales. Although I’m sure your intended customer is in the teens-college range and it seems like design might not matter to them, there are methods of making the path to a sale clearer or more enticing. As an example, BustedTees.com does a great job of this: instead of drowning you in text descriptions, the visually-driven homepage immediately grabs your attention. Maybe your images are animated (again, tastefully), like the scrolling LED belt or what you have in small-scale with the mirror ball set. Maybe there’s an option to “turn the lights off” on the site (like http://www.m5.icoke.com/bottle/index.html) and everything glows. This might seem like a marketing gimmick, but if it was done in a cool way, it would be the type of thing someone would want to tell their friend about to check out. Distinguishing your brand from the competition makes all the difference in the world.

      I hope these ideas help in some small way…good luck with everything!

      Reply
    17. Online Profits

      Thanks for the information .. i agree with some of it indeed, good to read informative articles like this one ..

      Reply

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