Make More from First Online Business

A business associate and I were speaking when he asked about my first online business, House Of Rave.com.

I told him I started it in high school and it had consistently made an average of $800 or more per month for the last 5 years, I don’t keep any inventory and all the shipping is done in California.

He then asked me, “Can you make more?” The answer was a simple yes. I spend less than 20 minutes a day on it, and if I spent a little time upgrading the whole operation, I could bring in about 50% to 100% more money. I know what works and doesn’t work with this particular business, I’ve just somehow always been satisfied with the money it brings in.

He told me, “This is low hanging fruit for you,” and that sentence re-sparked my interest in the business.

Over the month of September, I am going to enact the following items to improve the business:

-Add 1-800 number - I already have a VOIP phone for the business, so a 1-800 number is only $5 more per month.


Add my own pictures
-
I never see most of the products I sell, so I want to order select popular items for myself, take my own pics and write my own descriptions. I’ve done this before and it was very successful.

Make contact form – An online contact form would allow customers to ask questions without having to physically send an email with their own account.

Put tracking system on my own server -I currently have an order tracking system, but it is hosted elsewhere. Customers do not see it is hosted elsewhere, but it costs more money to host with someone else.

Get exchange server for mail - I use webmail for the business right now, so I cannot keep long term track of old mail/sent mail.

Offer Gift Certificates - My shopping cart software allows for gift certificates, so there is no harm in offering them.

New SSL certificate - I just didn’t want to pay for it, so the user-end shopping cart system has not been on an HTTPS connection for about a year now. I need to get a new certificate now as they are not expensive, and they give customers a better piece of mind.

Updates every three days - This rule would make me update either the main page or the blog at least twice a week. This lets users know there is someone on the other end.

These are just a few of the updates I am going to make. Hopefully within the next few months I can increase net profits by at least 40%.

Blog posted on: September 2, 2005

41 comments on “Make More from First Online Business

  1. Martin

    Hi!
    First of all, thanks for your great blog!

    I’ve a question. How you can keep no inventory and all the shipping is done in California?

    Thanks!
    Martin

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Martin:

    At a guess, Nev is either sourcing directly from the manufacturer or from a middleman who keeps their own inventory. I’m more impressed by the store software, which apparently beats the pants off what my present employer uses.

    Reply
  3. Martin

    Anonymous:

    How he find a manufacturer? Via Internet, contact ?

    For his store software, I’m not really impressed but it’s sure that is a nice one.

    Reply
  4. google

    Nev, could you answer some questions:

    -What sort of software do you use?
    -How did you find your supplier?
    -How do you spend so little time on the biz?
    -Where do you host the site?

    Reply
  5. Hakim

    What credit card processor do you use? It’s hard to find one which doesnt require unreasonable terms for very small business like house of rave.com. Btw great blog, you are a huge inspiration for me to take action! Keep on postin’!

    Reply
  6. questioneer

    how did you start this business in high school. Did you partner up with someone older in order to get the suppliers etc?

    Reply
  7. Jonathan@MyMoneyBlog

    I doubt Nev is going to share his suppliers, as that is the key his business.

    But, I join the others in eagerly waiting for the unveiling of this new business!

    Reply
  8. Neville

    To answer some questions:

    SUPPLIER: There is a supplier in California that sells all of the products I “carry”. I simply add products as they come in stock.
    I found the supplier by calling about 15 different places before I found one.

    PROCESS: I send my orders to the company daily for them to send out.

    MONEY: They sell to me at wholesale price, and I pay them for what I’ve bought from them every month. I keep the difference.

    MERCHANT ACCOUNT: I use Linkpoint as my merchant account. In 5 years I’ve never had a single problem with them.

    SOFTWARE: I use Shopsite Ecommerce Software. I first started using EC Builder 5 years ago, but I quickly outgrew it.

    HOW I STARTED: I started this in high school. I was 17 and curious about Ecommerce, so I decided the best way to learn was to open my own Ecommerce business. I started the business with $200 in birthday money. My dad had to co-sign for the account because I was under 18 at the time.

    Basically HoR started as an Ecommerce experiment, but turned into a dependable source of income for the last 5 years.

    Hope this answers some questions!
    -Nev

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    Thank you for your answers, Nev.

    No offense intended to anybody, but I’d just like to take this opportunity to suggest to your other readers that if they plan to try this themselves that they show a little respect and find a different niche (puzzles, games, RC cars, poker equipment, vacuum cleaners, paintings of pipes, something that isn’t directly competing). It shouldn’t be too hard to come up with something else to sell, after all.

    Reply
  10. YoungMiser

    I would like to suggest that you purchase your SSL cert from ev1servers.net. I think they are 49.00 dollars or so for a Geotrust SSL cert. They are just as good as any certificate out there for 100+ dollars. You just need to know a little about your web server.

    I do not work for this company, however I used to own a web hosting company so I am very familiar with the industry. Just trying to save you some money.

    Reply
  11. The Dividend Guy

    Thanks for this post Nev. I am looking at setting up a site and your new “rules” are good. I was at your site a couple of weeks ago and was going to buy something as a gift for your brother, but a few links were down and things just didn’t feel right. I think that professionalism is crucial in a website to give users the impression that the site is run by a company that is bigger than it is.

    P.S. Please note that this is not criticism – you have a great site – just some suggestions for improvement (not that you asked though!!!). Good luck.

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    Where do you derive your traffic to that site from? I have tried multiple google searches for some of your products and I can’t seem to find you ranked to recieve traffic from google. Am I missing a magic keyword in my search that most rave fans use?

    Just a thought

    Reply
  13. My (Jay's) Financial Blog

    I was wondering the same thing — doesn’t seem like HOR is in google…I have tried to search for common words like rave supplies, glow sticks, glow products, rave gear…but no house of rave…so I to would like to know where the traffic is coming from.

    Reply
  14. Justin

    E-Commerce made (relatively) simple:

    1. Get a shopping cart from OSCommerce.com. It’s free, it has a lot of add-ons, and it’s easy to install. Just get an SSL cert, merchant account (or paypal/2CheckOut.com), and load up your products.

    2. Find a drop-shipper (sounds like what Nev is using). They carry the products, you order them, and they ship directly to your customers under your name. NetDropShipper.com is an example of one for electronics.

    3. Advertise by feeding your produts through Froogle (Google’s comparison shopping engine), using Google Adwords, etc.

    If anyone needs help doing this kind of stuff, I love doing it in my spare time, so just email me at devanium at yahoo dot com.

    -Justin

    Reply
  15. Neville

    It’s true that HoR doesn’t appear in Google for some typical keywords….but remember Google is not the ONLY player out there. MSN rates my site entirely different than Google.

    My site brings in more traffic to SPECIFIC products, which is great for sales. Those people KNOW what they want. People searching for “Rave” don’t necessarily search that keyword to BUY anything.

    Some strong searches I have on Google include:

    -D i g i t a l G l o w s t i c k s
    -F l a s h i n g S a n d a l s
    -S o u l F u s i o n
    -G l o w i n g S h o e s
    -R a v e W a l l p a p e r
    -l i q u i d i n g V i d e o s

    I am currently going to improve the site step by step to hopefully bring in $1,500 a month.

    Reply
  16. Fluctuation

    I’m surprised you reveal so much about your business, that is very rare.

    I hope you continue to keep us updated, love hearing about your adventures!

    Reply
  17. Jay's Financial Blog

    I agree with dick…
    … having owned a web media company… I can accurately say one thing… the layout needs some work.

    Reply
  18. Dick

    I wouldn’t trust you with my credit card number. Professional appearance means a lot, even when selling toys to ecstasy users.

    Reply
  19. Chris Feist

    I wouldn’t waste the time and money on an exchange server.

    Exchange is just an email server, you’re better off just using what your hosting company provides and downloading your email into an email client (ie. Outlook) to keep track of it.

    Reply
  20. gbert

    nev, great site.

    Could you give us some tips on finding a great supplier or dropshipper? It seems hard to find and also not to mention the hundreds of scams out there.

    Reply
  21. Caitlin

    Neville, great info…it’s always interesting to read about your enterprises. I agree with Chris about Exchange. You might be better off either going with a host that offers IMAP type email (which will store it all on the server like exchange) or even forwarding your biz email to a gmail account (they now let you “send” email from other addresses you can verify in addition to storing 2gb and of course awesome search capabilities and labeling…I just realized that sounded like a commercial…heh)

    Reply
  22. Anonymous

    I like the site as is. Don’t need an ‘Amazon.com’ polished look, unless I never purchased over the net before, which I have. I would order from it, if I was lucky enough to goto a rave once in a while! lol

    Nev – what if you had 3 or 4 different HoR.com sites, selling things that reflect your other interests. This doesn’t work the ‘economy of scale’ concept(purchase big inventory and boost margin), but the nature of work would be essentially the same.

    -Chris

    Reply
  23. Anonymous

    You said that you dont carry the product you sell at houseofrave.com…..if this is the case is this type of business easy to set up? Is there any kind of overhead? This type of work just seems too easy, setting it up is where it takes time but once established there isnt really much involved is there?

    Reply
  24. Anonymous

    Nev, I commend you for having a great entrepreneurial spirit at such a young age. Most ppl who are curious minded are just plain curious. You’re a doer and you have a lot going ahead for you. I’m sure you’re parents are proud of you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and success. Regarding your site, I think it’s great I was almost ready to order something so your website although may sometime in the future would probably benefit from a more professional looking website when you can afford it, I would more concentrate on protecting customers credit card information through Verisign or SSL. I have heard that Hackers can enter a website and get access to customers credit card details. I personally would not order from anywebsite that does not protect my credit card details as it is too risky. I assume that the money you make goes back to buying your supplies and paying for your monthly web hosting and registration fees. It would be good to also consider upgrading your website when you can best afford a webdesigner as I think your online business has potential to get even bigger if you have the right form of web design or image to target young ppl and clubbers alike. You may also want to consider creating maybe tips on dancing or creating some sort of blogs of interest relating to clubbing etc. and then with that ad google adsense related with the article. All this is just a suggestion. You probably already know how ppc works. Anyway, many thanks again, I enjoyed reading everyones comments. Cheers….ML

    Reply
  25. Anonymous

    Nev, I commend you for having a great entrepreneurial spirit at such a young age. Most ppl who are curious minded are just plain curious. You’re a doer and you have a lot going ahead for you. I’m sure you’re parents are proud of you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and success. Regarding your first website, I think it’s great so far however, you may probably benefit from a more professional looking website when you can afford it. I think your online business has great potential to get even bigger if you have the right image to target young ppl and clubbers alike. But in saying this, the first and more important goal would be to concentrate on protecting customers credit card information through Verisign or SSL. I have heard that Hackers can enter a website and get access to customers credit card details. I personally would not order from anywebsite that does not have the above mentioned as its just too risky these days. Another suggestion is that you may also want to consider creating maybe tips on dancing or creating some sort of articles of interest relating to clubbing etc. and then with that ad some google adsense related with the article. Anyway, best wishes to your future endevours, we would love to continue to read on how you are progressing, and reading up on everyone else’s comments was a bit fun. Cheers….ML

    Reply
  26. CreateCashflow

    Nev, looks like your online biz is improving financially for you. Good work on that. I’ve enjoyed your posts. Great to see a young spritited entrepreneur.

    Reply
  27. Anonymous

    Hey Nev, I wanted to know if you could give me a step by step detail in how to build an ecommerce business from ground up, pretty much where to get started and things to look out for. I don’t need niche market ideas, just a road map to follow for my own creative ideas for retail like your HoR. Your Blog kicks A$$, it is very informative and motivaes the inner entrepreneur in all of us!

    goldenbrownboyatgmaildotcom

    Great work!!

    Reply
  28. Anonymous

    Great blog Neville. I just recently came over from mymoneyblogdotcom and started reading your posts. They are going to help me pursue my own path. Please check out myequityoptionsdotcom and let me know what you think. Sincerely, John.

    Reply
  29. EelKat

    Just found your blog today doing a Google search, for blogs that tell you how to make money blogging… I’ve had a blog a while now, but wanted to use it to somehow earn an income… I’ve been studying differant methods and such, and a few weeks ago, I set up an online store, a bit like you “House of Rave” store. I am still building the site right now, but I am hoping that it well become quite successful once I have it up and running.

    Well, I was wondering, could you tell me, how did you get yours started? How did you find supplyers? How did you get word out to potential customers when you first started out?

    So far, I’ve got 2 differant supplyers that I well be using, one pays a 10% commision on sales and the other 32%. In the past month, I made $23.78 from the 10% one, and $22.14 from the 32% one. I know it’s not much, but I was just about jumping for joy when I got the checks!

    So far this post here, is the only one I’ve read, but I well be reading more of your blog tonight, and am adding it to my blogroll so that I can keep coming back.

    ~~EK

    Reply
  30. Credit

    You are doing an excellent job with your site, houseofrave, blogging, and educating.

    I believe security with credit cards should be pointed out a little more as the online world is extremely carefull when it comes to using credit cards online.

    houseofrave needs a larger security verification at the bottom or top of the page indicating using a credit card on your site is secure. Of course, your site must be secure to use a credit card before doing so.

    Reply
  31. Brady

    How did you go about finding a supplier? Did you research on the internet for companies? Also, about how much did it cost you to start up your online company? I am looking to do something similar, but obviously not with the same items. You are an inspiration to the entrepreneur in all of us!

    Reply

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