eCommerce Lifestyle
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Ecommerce lifestyle podcast interviews Interview John Murphy

How John Maintained Sales After Losing the Ability to Advertise on Google

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In this interview episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle Podcast, Anton talks with DSL community member John about:

  • Setting up a business in the states from abroad.
  • How John broke $100,000 in monthly revenue with over 100 competitors.
  • How John maintained sales after losing the ability to advertise on Google.
  • What to do when SEO is your primary source of traffic.
  • Safety Net - Podcast Link
  • SEO Training 
  • Prague Retreat
  • Free Training
  • Transcripts

    Hey. What's up, everybody? Anton Kraly here, from ecommercelifestyle.com. And, welcome to another episode of the E-Commerce Lifestyle Podcast. So, today we are doing something different. WE are going to start doing a mix of interviews and my normal solo-style podcast that you've been hearing, here, for the past year, or so. And, we actually recorded the first one. That's what you're going to be hearing today. Now, this was a conversation I had with John Murphy, who is a member of the Drop Ship Lifestyle Community. It was a really great conversation, he shared a lot about his story. He shared a lot about what he did for a recent win, and why he was almost forced to get better at that. I'll let him share his story, which we will cut into. I do want to say, though, unfortunately, we recorded this one for almost thirty minutes. And, I had an audio issue on my side, about halfway through, where we lost the end of it.

    Now, it was an amazing conversation. So, I'm really not happy about that. But, I don't want to just record it again with John, because it would feel not authentic if we were just saying the same things. So, what we're going to do for this episode is the first half of it or so will be the conversation that I had with John, and then we will be transitioning into the end of it, where I'll take back over. Also, let me know, after this episode, what you think about it. I would love to hear your thoughts on this style.

    But the goal is, typically, to have these episode be anywhere between ten and twenty minutes, where I'm talking to different members of our communities. Talking about who they are, how they got started, a recent win that they had in their business, and how that could benefit the community, so a takeaway for you. And then, these episodes wrap up with the person I'm speaking to. So in today's episode, in John's case, asking me a question that, hopefully, I can provide value with, and help, and give feedback with, that can help them get to the next level, and that can help you as a listener. So, Hope you enjoy it, be sure to let me know. And, with that being said, let's get into the first episode with John Murphy, of E-Commerce Lifestyle.

    Doing something new today, here with John. John is a member of Drop Ship Lifestyle, at the community, at [Leaston 00:02:22] Labs. Been a part of it for a while now. And, we're trying something on the Podcast, where, instead of just me sharing something that's happening that day, or in the business, I want to start interacting more, and sharing stories that, maybe, other people are having, or experiences that people are having that could benefit everybody. So John, thanks for being the first guest here. Can you let everybody know a little bit about you, and where you are in the world, and how you got into this whole E-Commerce thing.

    Yeah. Sure. Well, first of all, tanks for having me. So, it's great to be able to talk to you, and I'll see you in September, as well. So, that's cool.

    [crosstalk 00:02:56], yeah?

    Yeah. So, I'm already in Europe, because I'm Irish, but I've been living in Italy for sixteen or seventeen years. So, I'm up in the North of Italy, in a town called Savona, a really small town, a coastal town. So, it's pretty nice here. And, I'm a full-time employee for General Electric. I have a corporate job, I've been doing it for years. I got into E-Comm, basically because my wife has a very good career, and every few years she gets another good opportunity, and it's usually in a different city, somewhere else. And, it's pretty hard to keep your job and relocate. So, it used to be a case of, I'd quit my job, relocate, start all over again. I figured, I need to find a way where I can work wherever we are. You know, I can work. And working from home, and online just takes all those boxes, so I did what you did. And, I discovered a four hour work week. And, it was all uphill from there. That's awesome. It sounds like you really are living the dreams, though. I mean, the part of the world you're in is absolutely gorgeous. To be able to work there, run your store from there, that's amazing. I'm probably going to be, either before Prague, or after Prague, spending some time in Italy, also. Cool. Every chance I get, when I'm close, I got to go experience something new over there. So, maybe we'll catch up there, as well. Is your store, I'm curious, is it based in Ireland, or do you sell in the States? I sell in the States. In the States. Okay. Cool. Was that a hard process for you to set up? Or, was it relatively simple?

    IT was pretty simple. It was pretty simple. There were a couple of snags. AS of right now, I flew over to the US, which was an expense, because to open a bank account in the US, you have to physically be there. So, you have to walk into a branch, in person, with your ID, and your paperwork, and then you can open an account. So, that was an expense that I needed to invest in. And then, there's the payment processors, it's different. Shopify payment is not in Italy, it can be a bit complicated.

    Also, as long as my money sits in the US, it'll go into my US business's bank account. So, I'm working full-time, in Italy. And, I pay my taxes in Italy, and my business is earning in the US, and I'm not. So, I'm still trying to figure that out. I'm very, very close. I think, in thirteen days, I'm going to be able to quit my job, and do this full-time.

    Oh, I love it. I love it. Well, congratulations. That's amazing. That's the dream, right? Yeah. I love it. Awesome work.

    [crosstalk 00:05:46] Two and a half years. So, I've been doing both.

    Well, nice work. And, definitely post an update, let me know when that happens. That, in its own, is a recent win. But, that's something that we wanted to do on this Podcast, when we have these conversations, is hopefully have you share something, recently, that's happened in your business, that would count as a win. That could be getting a new supplier, at a gold level, that could be a massive sale. Could be, pretty much, anything that you're proud of, or something that happened. So, what would you say is recently a win you've had in your business?

    You've mentioned a few, actually. So, July 1st, I made my biggest sale. 30k, which was really, really nice.

    Beautiful

    That was a very nice "Ca-ching" that come in. Yes, and it was nice. I had to work hard to get it, but I knew it was coming. But, it was still sweet, when it came in. And, that sale actually got me... So, on the first on July, six month had passed in the year, and that sale brought me over my year-to-date record for 2018. So, what I did last year, I'm already past that, for this year, and there's another six months to go.

    That's really cool. I love it. And, I know one thing that you had mentioned, earlier, before we started recording, is you didn't do it the way you were doing it last year. Right? You had an issue with Google.

    Yeah. So, it turns out, after two years of running ads, I discovered that my niche is actually a violation of their ad policies. So, they just shut me down, which was a real nightmare, because when it happened, I thought, "Oh my God. I'm planning on quitting my job. In April, so it happened... This year was going really well. Every month was double the previous month in sales. April, for the very first time, I broke 100k.

    Nice.

    And, in my niche, my season starts in May, so I was thinking, "I'm going to hit a million dollars this year, it's going to be amazing. There's no way I'm going to keep working." At the end of April, maybe they saw how much money I was making, I don't know. They just sent an email, and said, "Guess what? Your ad, it's a violation, and you're down." Which was a real blow, because I have the most saturated niche in existence, I promise you. I've got over a hundred online competitors all Drop-shipping the same 25. Close to 25 brands, we're all selling the same thing. And when my ads dried up, I just sat and waited, and waited. And do you know what happened? I kept getting sales, sales just kept coming in, and kept coming in. I was like, "Maybe there's something to this. Maybe I'll just organic traffic from now on."

    So, May, in May and June, I, both, broke 50k, organically. And, I'm already at 50k for this month, this is all organic.

    Amazing. When you were spending, what were you budgeting towards Google per month?

    It was around 3k. I was spending about 3000 dollars a month on ads. I was getting about 750 visitors a day, and I'm still getting about 300 visitors a day now, organically.

    Organically. And, I think that, that's such an important message, and something that people can take away. I did a solo podcast episode, a while back, called Safety Nets. It's about the thing that could happen to anybody, where you could lose an advertising channel, you can lose a supplier, you can lose your email auto-responder. So, just having different way, to not have your business die. Especially after you get past that first threshold of, "Okay. I'm set up. I'm making sales." Just looking for ways to diversify your business and to make sure, again, if something breaks, you're not sitting there crying about what to do next. So that's awesome, that you did start to focus on organic before Google sent you that message. I was going to tell you, one thing I was going to recommend is just doing everything you can by reaching out to them non-stop to get your account back because I've had my accounts closed more times than I can count. Sometimes, they've told me it's never coming back, and it always has. But in a restricted category, that's the one place where it's a different story.

    It's a deal-breaker, yeah.

    I would advertise with them, in the future, with something else, but if the product category literally can't be advertised, then that's where you're at. It is what it is, there. But, as far as what you did, organically, to start building that foundation, without knowing that Google was going to close you down. What did that look like? What were things you were actively doing?

    It was a very long process, but it was a very... There were a lot of aspects to it. What I did, was, I started, I realized that there are so many competitors in my niche, and everybody's running ads for the same products, and there's only so many spaces on the first page, for shopping, anyway. I figured I could, I needed to find a way how I could get my product pages to rank organically. Not only, but also the collection pages.

    And, unfortunately, this is the part of the episode where my headphones disconnected, so I basically had to change my audio output, and then we continued our conversation for about ten more minutes. But unfortunately, that part of the file was corrupt, and the audio was just not at all usable. So, what I am going to do now, is go through John's answer.

    What I'll say, if this all sounds interesting to you, which I'm assuming it does, and you're not part of Drop Ship Lifestyle yet, be sure to go to dropshiplifestyle.com/webinar to learn more about our programs and how you can get started. Also, if you want to talk to John in person and connect with him, if you're coming to Prague for our sixth annual retreat like John mention, he will be there. So, definitely looking to connect more with John, there. And, a good way to start networking before you even get out there. So John will, again, be out in Prague. And if you want to come to Prague, and you don't have a ticket yet, just log in to the member's area, at courses.dropshiplifestyle.com, and you'll see the option right on your home screen, when you log in, to get your ticket, before we start up the event.

    So, what John went on to explain to me, for what he had worked on, in terms of building the foundation for organic, and why he's able to rank so well, is he does all unique product descriptions. And, what John was saying, is he basically turns all of his product pages into long form sales letters.

    So, what most people do is take the CSV from their supplier, they upload it, directly. Meaning, everybody, 90% of your competition, plus, is using the same descriptions, the same exact words, and you could be on any website, and not know where you are. So, What John started to do, before Google told him his niche was not allowed, was actually start doing that work. He was already having these long form sales pages, he was already getting that unique traffic, which is why it didn't die up, and which is why sales didn't just totally run dry.

    Something else that John explained to me, that he does, and that he did before Google told him, "This is not allowed here", is he advertises on different forums that are related to his industry. And, the way he does it, is instead of just putting a normal little banner ad on the sidebar, is he actually has unique coupon codes for each community that he sponsors. Meaning, each community he runs ads on.

    So, let's just say you were on a community called Store ABC or Forum ABC. You would see his advertisement, and it would say, "All Forum ABC visitors get", whatever it is, "10% off, by using coupon code Forum ABC on ourstore.com. So, just building links off other communities that already have authority. Again, by actually paying them for actual advertisements. So, if you want to learn more about how that's done, definitely go into Module 6 of the Drop Ship Blueprint. And, go into the section on Influencer Marketing Transferred Influence, that's where I talk about how to make those connections, give you the scripts, and everything.

    But, John, again, did amazing. The fact that his store... For most people, could have been in a situation, where, "Okay, that's it. Let me start over." He wasn't there. Instead, his sales continue, his sales are growing, and like you heard him say, he's pretty much set up for success, with the ability to leave his job, and continue to grow from there. So, keep an eye out for John, in Prague, and I'm definitely looking forward to connecting with John, there, and possibly in the future, as well. Maybe six months from now, or a year from now, to see how big he's able to grow after the transition from, right now, putting a very small amount of time into this business, into more hours, and more, really, man-power, once he goes full-time into this, and leaves his 9 to 5.

    Now, the third part of this Podcast, and all of these interview-style Podcasts, are when I basically ask the guest to ask me anything that I can help them with. John, actually did send his question, he typed it out. So, let me read that, before I answer it. And, his question is, "Since I now rely solely on organic traffic, what would you recommend I focus on the most?" So, My advice to John was, basically, saying, in our businesses, what we rely on the most is Google Ads.

    So, Google Ads is the foundation of everything, and what that means is most of our time goes into Google Ads. So, getting better at it, actively monitoring it, auditing our accounts. When we hire people, and we bring on contractors, most of the work is supporting that, because that's the number one money maker. Everything else, again, supports that. So, what I recommended that John do, instead of Google Ads, Search Engine Optimization is going to be his driver, if that's where all the attention is going, if that's going to be the main thing that everything else supports. What I recommended to him, is he goes a step further with his product pages. So, a big thing that Google looks for is this page, is this website. Is this actually relevant, and is this the best thing that will match for the person looking for it?

    So, some things that I recommend, instead of, again, just rewriting product descriptions, is giving the user, the person that finds you through Google Ads, everything that they need, when they're on your webpage. The way that I think about it, is you want to make your webpage, I should say pages, because I'm really talking about all your product pages, you want to make them something that the person that's on it is afraid to leave, because they don't want to forget your website. You want them to be getting so much value and information, that they're not going to close out of your page, and think, "Oh. I'll find this again, later. " They're going to keep it open, because it's that valuable to them.

    How do you do this? How do you create value on a product page, on your website? Well, some of the things that we do, and that I recommend, first of all, are taking that regular description and turning it into something interesting. So, I've done videos on this, on my Drop Ship Weekly show, this is also covered in depth, in Drop Ship Lifestyle, in the Blueprint. But, basically rewriting these descriptions, so that they turn features into benefits, so that they show off who the product is for, and who it's not for.

    Another thing I recommend doing is, basically adding what I call different blocks to your product pages. So, if you could just visualize this; let's say somebody was on John's store, they're looking at his product page, they see the header menu, they see the product images, they see the product name, they see the add-to-cart button. Then, they see the description. So, adding to that, the other blocks that we add, that I recommended John add, and that everybody add. One of them is reviews. Reviews, we do everything and anything possible to get them. So, asking the supplier, asking customers, asking everybody we can get.

    And, we're not just trying to have generic reviews. Let's say I was selling a stand-up desk, or let's say John was selling stand-up desks. I wouldn't say get a review that says, "This is an awesome stand-up desk." You want to have them as in depth as possible. Maybe something like, "I purchased this stand-up desk thinking that it might be wobbly, but when I got it into my home, I realized that this stand up desk was super secure, it was easy to assemble, the color of the bamboo was actually matching perfectly to what I saw when I was on the website, on my phone." So, things like that. Going deep into the actually product. Not like, "A plus, highly recommend." Because that's not going to help you, organically. So, one block for reviews. Again, in depth reviews. And, you actually have to go out of your way to get these, they're not just going to come to you naturally, all day every day.

    The other block, that I recommend having, and I recommend actively working on, literally daily, is basically what I would call a mini-forum, on your product page. To do this, we use the Question and Answer app that is in the Shopify App store, and what this does is allow people, when they're on your product pages, to ask questions. So, let's say they were on a stand-up desk website, They could say, "What's the maximum height?" They can ask that question. If they do, you'll get a notification that, that question was asked on that product page. Then, you can type out your response. And, when you do that, what's cool is the visitor, the person that asked that question gets an email with the answer. But, that question answer stays on your product page.

    So, this is a way that you can take all common objections. This is the way that you can take every single thing anybody's ever asked you about your products, and put it in a format of questions and answers. This is another block on your product page. Not only does this help with conversion rates, but again, this is something that really does help with organic traffic. So, people will ask questions on your product pages, but what I recommended to John, and what I recommend to everybody listening to this, is you make your own questions. You know what people are asking you, when they call your store, when they're live-chatting, when they're emailing. You can go to your competitors websites, and see what people are saying about them, what type of questions they have, and you post your own. You post the question, then you post the answer, and you build out that section. So again, when somebody is on your site, they don't want to leave, because they're getting so much value from getting these details and these extra specifics about that product.

    Another thing that I recommended to John, and again, I recommend to everybody, for organic, is giving expert advice on your product pages. So, let's just say, again, you were selling stand-up desks, and somebody was on one of your pages for a 76 inch bamboo stand-up desk. Well, I would add a block to that page, that showed the page they were on, so you're looking at this product. And then, I might show a side-by-side comparison of two different stand-up desks that we sell, that might also be bamboo, but that might be from different supplier, or different brands.

    Now, what this does, is allow you to actually show off which is better for specific people. So, maybe one of them has a better warranty, let's say. Maybe one of them is more adjustable, in height. Maybe one of them ships faster. Whatever those things that are different. Those are the things you want to show off, because what you're going to do with that is either convince the person even more, that's on your website, that the one they're looking at is the right one for them. Or, you're going to open their eyes to a related product that actually might be a better fit, and they're going to buy that from you.

    Now, again this is great for conversions, but it's also great for organic traffic, because you're building out your pages more. You're having it, so when people actually land on your site, remember the goal of this all is that they're getting more value from it, and they don't want to just click away. They don't want to leave it, because now they know. "Okay, this is the right site, they gave me advice on this." Or, "They directed me to something else that's better for me." So, not only does it help with conversions, it helps with time on-site, which helps Google to rank you higher.

    Now, something else that, again, I recommend everybody do, is make sure you are actually collecting star reviews, and you're using an app. We use an app called JSON LD, that alters our search results, a little bit. So, when people see us in Google, in the search results, they don't just see our product name, and our Meta description, but they also see how many stars that product has, in terms of reviews. They also see if it's in stock, they see the product price. So, what that allows us to do is, again, stand out in a sea of results. So if somebody's scrolling, even if Google decides, "Hey, John's website should be number 5, organically, for this product."

    Well, once you enable those type of reviews with those markups, it's called, and people see that, they're going to click yours more than the results that are above you because yours stands out more. And, what happens when you start receiving more clicks, even if you're lower in the organic search results, is Google's Algorithm will realize, "Okay, people must like this site that's ranked number 6, more than the sites that are tanked, more than 1 through 5, because more people are clicking that. So, they'll bump it up. You'll get better search results. So, I recommended that, at well, and for every product. Especially the best sellers.

    Another thing that came up in the conversation with John was the rewriting of descriptions, and I asked him when he started doing that. I asked him, "Did you just upload all of your products right away, using supplier provided information? Or, did you start rewriting them from day one?" And, he said he actually uploaded them all regular stock descriptions, and then updated them, moving forward. So, again, started generic, then made updates So, that's typically what we do. Just because we want all the products on our websites as soon as possible. And then, what we do is look at our Google Analytics. So, we see what pages people are actually landing on. We look at our Google Ads account to see what products we're getting impressions for and clicks for, and sales for. And, then those are the ones that we put the most time into, when we're prioritizing what should be rewritten, which product pages should we get the most reviews for, and the most questions for. That's based on the data, once we start running traffic.

    I will say, John mentioned that if he was starting over, he would most likely rewrite everything from day one. So, that is something you could do. But again, he's seeing amazing results starting with the way that we start, which is getting products on the site, and then optimizing from there.

    A couple other things I recommended for John, being that SEO is going to be his bread and butter. That's going to be his thing. Basically, what I said is, "Listen, if that's yours, you should be putting your time, energy, and resources into building systems around that, to make sure you're moving in the right direction. So, you probably know this, if you're part of Drop Ship Lifestyle. But, we talk a lot about how we audit our ad accounts. What we're looking for, how we're looking for any different signs of weakness or strength, and how we're optimizing because of that.

    So, I recommended John use a tool called ahrefs.com. And, basically use that to do his organic auditing. So, you could see where you're ranking, for different products. You could see what your competition looks like. You could track things over time, to see if your organic results are going up or down, and make adjustments from there. So, I recommended John use that tool, and build a system in his business, for monitoring that.

    I also recommended some easy wins, and one of them was just outsourcing page-speed optimization. So, Google and everybody really cares about how fast your site loads, once somebody lands on it. So, a lot of people try to do this all themselves, which is fine when you're first starting. But, if you're up and running, and you have things going on in your business, and you're making money, I do recommend, if your sites not fast, I do recommend hiring somebody that literally specializes in speed optimizations, because they can usually go into your site, make some tweaks. Seriously, for a couple hundred bucks, and make it load dramatically faster. And when that happens, Google will reward you with higher organic results. So, I did recommend John do that.

    Now, another thing that I recommended to John, being, like you heard him say, he's going to be leaving his job. And, he said he's going to be putting in more hours to the business. I basically asked him, "Are you doing everything yourself, right now? Or, are you working with a team?" And he said, as of now, it's all on him. So I said, Okay, if I was you, let's say you're putting two hours into the business, now, every day. And, you're going to go to four hours a day? I would put two, those new two hours, those added hours that you're going to be putting in. I would put those into hiring somebody, and training somebody, and building systems for that person.

    So, what I've seen happen to a lot of people, is they will leave their jobs because they have a store that's doing great, like John's is. And then, what will happen is, they will just build jobs for themselves, and they'll do more, and more, and more. And, basically start working the same as they use to, except on their own business. Now, nothing wrong with that, but if this is really going to scale, and get to 200 thousand a month, 300 thousand, 500 thousand. Then, you know, John will need people supporting him. Again, I recommended his new hours, that he finds, get invested into the person, or the people that are going to be part of this next phase of growth.

    So, I talked about that a little bit. I'm not going to get into detail about our hiring process, now. Simply for sake of time. We do want to keep these episodes relatively short. But, if you want to learn more about how we do hire, check out Module 7 of the Drop Ship Blueprint. That shows all of our automations, and how we outsource. But, that was all my advice for John. We wrapped up with me just telling him, again, how happy I am for him because he's made so much progress in relatively not a lot of time, at all. I know personally, I am looking forward to meeting up with him, in Prague, hearing more about his journey. What is it, going to be in two months from now, at that event. So, seeing how he transitions from now to then. And, if you're out there, too, would love to hear from you, and your story.

    So, again, let me know, guys, what you think of this episode format. Unfortunately, again, we don't have the full conversation at the end of the dialogue, back and forth. I really wish we did, because I enjoyed it. It was a great conversation. But, I'll be, maybe, doing some back-up recordings, for future episodes. So, if you did get value from this one, I would really appreciate it if you could let me know, over on iTunes. Just go to iTunes and search for E-Commerce Lifestyle. Let me know what you think about it. And, I do want to just thank Katie for our most recent 5 star review on iTunes. She says: "Great content. Anton is an expert in E-Commerce and Drop Shipping and he packs so much valuable content into his podcast. Definitely a must-listen for anyone who is interested in building or growing their business." So, that was from Katie Brooks. Thank you, Katie. I appreciate you. Thank you, guys.

    What I'll say, also, if you're listening to this, and you feel like you don't know what I'm talking about, or what John was talking about, when it comes to SEO. I have a two and a half hour training inside of the Drop Ship Blueprint. It's in Module 6, and it's called Search Engine Domination. It's two and a half hours, sharing everything we do to get ranked high, organically, to get these quote/unquote "free sales". So, check that out, if you're a member of Drop Ship Lifestyle. Just log in, at courses.dropshiplifestyle.com, and then go to that lesson in Module 6 of the Blueprint. Again, if you're not part of Drop Ship Lifestyle yet, go on over to dropshiplifestyle.com/webinar, where you can get my free presentation and learn what this all about and how we help people build highly profitable semi-automated business. Thank you, everybody, once again. I'm going to sign off now, and I'll talk to you on the next episode of the E-Commerce Lifestyle Podcast. See You.

  • Anton Kraly says:

    Thanks again to John for being the first ever podcast guest!

  • Anton Kraly says:

    Update: John did it!

    Drop Ship Lifestyle Results

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