Building From Scratch – January 18 Update

2 · by Dennis Moons · Updated on 8 February 2018

January marked the fifth(!) month of operations for Apes in Space, the online store I started to sell space posters.

During the last couple of months, it has slowly chugged along, making the odd sale here and there.

I have to admit, it’s slowly eating away my motivation. There just is not enough consistent traffic hitting the site to make consistent sales.

But in January I’ve started experimenting with a new marketing channels to hopefully counter that.

So like every months, it’s time to dig in what exactly I’ve done during January 2018. I’ve divided this article up into the following areas: Marketing, Financials, Merchandise, Effort & Psychology.

👉 By December 2018, I want this new store to hit $1,000 / month in revenue. Sign up for new updates and follow the journey!

📈 Marketing


Total number of sessions: 364 (-68% compared to December)

The overall number of sessions has gone down because I didn’t have big hitting Facebook ads campaigns as I did during December.

The graph below shows the website visitors in January. You can see a steady graph that grows a bit quicker towards the end of the month, that’s when I switched on my Adwords campaigns.


Next, let’s look at the quality of these visitors: Pages/Session, Avg. Session Duration & Bounce rate.


All three visitor quality metrics improved by a lot. This means that compared to last month, the visitors were more interested in what we had on the site. And interacting with the site is essential to discover the products we have for sale.

Now let’s look at where the visitors in January came from:


Google / cpc or Adwords tops the January chart. That looks promising, but the bounce rate and time on site can still be improved by a lot.

Next big hitter is the organic traffic. This has more than double compared to last month (61 vs 27 users)

Lastly there is some referral traffic and some organic social visits from Facebook (mainly) & Twitter.


My core traffic strategy is:

  1. Ads for short term gains (improve website, create email funnel, make some sales)
  2. Organic search in the long term

To get that organic traffic, I’ve been creating space themed blog content.

I had researched 12 events and only got 4 posts out. Busy happened and these posts are towards the bottom of my priority list.

As I said last month, I’ve adapted my approach to make the posts higher quality to sometimes span multiple events. This month I covered the birth of the space shuttle program.


Normally I would focus on one event, but now I went a little bit deeper, covering other related events that make the article more interesting. This also gives me the opportunity to do more interlinking in between posts.

Google Search Console shows clicks & impressions rising sharply, they are about 4x of the numbers for December. This gives me the confidence that we’ll see the search traffic further rise in February.


Because I was so behind for the content product in January, I haven’t researched February. I should have more time to create content so I’ll see if I can produce all of the February posts + catch up on January. That will put me well over 20 posts in the course of this (short) month.

To hit the optimistic 2018 target, I also need to think about getting more links to the site. That’s the only way the investments I’ve made in the content will really play out.

Right now I’ve only got 10 referring domains.

Email marketing

I still have the Privy pop up running. It hasn’t been very effective from an opt-in perspective but it’s amazing I have kept it unchanged for the last 3 months 😓

The few subscribers it has picked up have almost translated into a sale. So I guess for some visitors the discount does encourage them to take action.

It’s missing most of its effectiveness because most people that hit the site aren’t looking to purchase something today. For February I’ve upgraded to a paid account to be able to serve 2 popups: one for the blog & one for the rest of the site.

So as of 31st January 2018, the email list numbers are:

  • Total email subscribers: 6
  • New email subscribers: 1

I had one visitor start checkout, but then abandoned it. The perfect time for a cart abandonment email campaign!

I’m using Klaviyo as my email tool so assumed that email had gone out.

Unfortunately, that specifc flow was still in Manual mode, which requires you to review (and approve) each email before it goes out:


The right timing is essential for these campaigns to work. I sent this email out 2 weeks after the fact. No surprise that that sales was long gone.

Klaviyo does a good job creating a set of 7 default flows, and it probably makes sense not to start sending out emails before you had a look at the content and design to make sure it fits your brand.

I’ve now switched that one email from Manual to Live, so new visitors should get these emails 4 hours after they leave their carts.

Here is something interesting that I saw in my Klaviyo dashboard. I don’t know where these numbers come from, but they look too good to ignore 🤩


Instead of spending time on creating newsletters for 6 subscribers. I’ll probably tweak and activate more these automated flows for the few people that opt-in or become a customer. Those are an investment that will keep returning value for the month’s to come.

Google Adwords

Google Adwords has been the biggest part of my consulting work for the last couple of years.

So I really want to get started with campaigns for Apes In Space to give a better look into what I do.

I started with keyword research (click to read the in-depth post I wrote about it), set up the campaigns and started tweaking them.


Overview of my Adwords campaign

For now it’s pretty simple. I target space themed keywords + poster for the ones were I have a solid collection. The others I’ve put on hold for now.

As part of setting up the campaigns, I realized that I needed a lot more landing pages for the different keywords. So I created extra categories. There are now about 15 categories on the store, but some of them have a pretty low number of products. Ideally I want 10-15 products in each category to offer some options.

Next thing I wanted to do was improve the navigation. I added product filters to the sidebar (I’m using the Product Filter & Search app by BoostCommerce) and remade the dropdown in the top navigation menu:


This should help visitors browse the collection and get around a little easier.

I also added suggested products to the different product pages, with Personalized Recommendations app from Beeketing (not available in the app store any longer). This app takes a cut of revenue for every sale it assists with, so I’ll need to see if it’s worth it.

Here is what it looks like:


I’ve also added Hotjar to the website to see what the visitors are doing and where they get stuck. More on that in the next update.

Social media follower counts

  • Twitter followers: 5 (same as December)
  • Instagram followers: 17 (+1)
  • Facebook likes: 77 (-)

💰 Financials

I made 0 sales in January. That’s mainly because of a lack of traffic. Adwords kicked only in at the end of the month and I didn’t run any Facebook campaigns.

Here is what the financials look like:

Detailed breakdown:

Revenue: $0

Expenses: $97.44

  • Shopify basic plan: $29
  • Adwords spend: $68.44

Profit / loss = Revenue – Cost = -$97.44

 📦 Merchandise

I added about 13 new posters in Janaury, the total is now at 76 posters.

Like usual, most of them come out of the research that I do for the blog article. So this month a most of them are related to the Space Shuttle

I want to share this gem with:


⏱ Effort

Here is how much time I spent on running my online store in January:

I spent about as much time on the store as I did in December. Half of that was spent on creating content for the site, another big portion was related to setting up the Adwords campaigns.

😶 Psychology

While I spent about as much time on the store compared to last month, it felt like I was neglecting it a bit.

That’s mainly because of the content pipeline that was empty for most of the month.

Other projects (like my new course) and client work took priority.

The organic traffic grew well this month, which makes a little bit up for the 0 sales.

I’m also getting more feedback from people , which helps to keep the motivation going. One old client got in touch because he liked how I was approaching this new project and wanted to do some new work.

And I had a few readers reach out and share similar tales of their projects.

So if you’re getting value from any of this, be sure to leave me a comment or send me a message 🙂

🚀 My goal is to hit $1,000 / month in sales by end of December 2018.  That’s only 11 updates away so be sure to sign up for future updates to follow the progress!

Other updates in this series: LaunchMonth 1Month 2Month 3 – Month 4

Dennis Moons

Dennis Moons is the founder and lead instructor at Store Growers.

He's a Google Ads expert with over 12 years of experience in running Google Ads campaigns.

During this time he has managed more than $5 million in ad spend and worked with clients ranging from small businesses to global brands. His goal is to provide advice that allows you to compete effectively in Google Ads.

Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.


2 responses on "Building From Scratch – January 18 Update"

  1. Jonathan says:

    Always interesting to read these updated. Curious to see how the store will grow!

    1. Dennis says:

      Glad to hear you’re following along Jonathan 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *