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  • Writer's pictureHappy Hippo Media

How to Make Your First 10 Sales

Updated: Feb 23, 2019

When you first start an ecommerce store there is a lot to think about and your first sales are always the hardest but most important to obtain. They help you perfect your order processes and find any faults in the system.

This blog will take you through the '10 commandments', so to speak, of how to get your first online sales...and it's easier to implement than you may think. We at Happy Hippo Media have tried it numerous times with great success.

The rule:

Try to follow each step consecutively without moving onto the next step until you have received an order from the step you are are to. This will help you monitor what works and what doesn't work.

1. Build a Pre-launch List and Send an Email to Them

Generating buzz through emails is ridiculously effective when done correctly. Building a pre-launch list is as easy as taking your friends and families emails and putting them into an excel spreadsheet. Email this list before using any of the other steps. These people will likely be your most qualified leads when starting your online store since these people have already raised their hands with interest and gave you their email to hear more. 

You can use a service like mailchimp or any one of the other easy to use email apps. If you dont build this email list then move straight onto the next step.

2. Sell to Friends and Family in Person

This is by far the easiest tactic. Once you have what it is you are selling, take it to a friend or family member who will appreciate the product and who will use it and show it to them. This doesn't mean taking it to your father and guilt tripping him into buying the product but rather finding someone who will genuinely be interested. This will help you get honest feedback and allow you to see how your ordering process can work upfront.

3. Run a Contest or Giveaway

One of the best ways to increase brand awareness and get people to become interested in your products is to offer a giveaway or some sort of competition. After all who doesn't like something for FREE?! This allows people to see what you have on offer and expand the presence of your other various products. 

Run your own contest or check out ViralSweep and Gleam to get your contest started.

4. Sell to Friends Through Social Channels

Ok, so previously you convinced a friend or family member to buy from you in person. Maybe you were hanging out with them, or you targeted one of them at a get-together or party. Now, it’s time to dip your toes in into social media. If you’re like most people, you’re on Facebook. 

So how do you strategically sell to friends on Facebook?

First, before you go announcing your store and products to everyone, try taking a smarter, more targeted approach. You can use Facebook’s powerful social graph search to find people that are most likely interested and more likely to purchase your products by searching for keywords related to your products.

That’s exactly what Noah Kagan did when he was trying to validate his idea for a subscription beef jerky business. 

After you identify who has shown interest in your products you might want to reach out to them personally. you should also consider that you might need to offer them a discount given they are friends and family of yours.

5. Sell on Amazon, ebay & Other Marketplaces

Being effective as an ecommerce entrepreneur means testing everything, this includes testing other channels like marketplaces. Amazon and ebay are great ways to get your first sales! People are already in these ecommerce marketplaces searching for products. This really helps at the start for that extra boost and contributes to SEO and your overall Google rankings.

6. Become Part of the Reddit Community

Reddit is a massive community of intelligent individuals, and they divide themselves into niche specific subreddits based on their interests. There a thousands of these categories so you are more than likely to find categories that match your product.

The idea is that you must cement yourself into these subreddits to develop relationships with people. You can’t just go into these groups and start selling your products. That would be like entering a dinner party you’re not invited to and trying to sell everyone a Sham-wow! You just can’t do it. This relationship building takes times but the payoffs and relationships built are well worth it.

7. Launch Some Facebook Ads

Increase your conversions with some decent photograph! This really helps!

Unsplash is a great source for a library of free photos from photographers around the world

Stepping in at sales challenge number seven is to use Facebook’s native advertising platform to make a sale. Facebook allows some of the most precise ad targeting features of any platform and is definitely a channel all ecommerce entrepreneurs should try. Keep in mind that although Facebook has some great targeting options, you really need to spend some time thinking about your target market, their lifestyle, the things they like and the things they don’t like in order to find a good fit with your advertisements. When you first start advertising on Facebook, you’re likely going to pay a considerable amount for your first customers. As your ads begin to optimise this overall cost per lead does decrease and become feasible.

Remember, your first sales shouldn’t be about profitability. They should be about finding your product/market fit, and acquiring your first customers to refine your advertising, shipping, fulfillment and customer service strategy, and experience.

8. Utilize Instagram Paid Shoutout's

Instagram is still as effective as ever when it comes to getting infront of people‘s eye-balls! The idea is to utilize this platform by finding influencers with 50k-500k in followers and then pay them to showcase your products and website links. This can send some serious numbers in customers your way if you select the right influencer who‘s audience resonates with your product. Some influencers take money as payment however others just prefer to receive products - happy negotiating!

9. Set up Google Adwords

Google Adwords is one of the most established advertising networks online. It’s search (intent) based advertising so if you have a new product that no one has ever heard of before, you may want to consider skipping this Adwords as a viable marketing channel for you. For everyone else, Google Adwords can be a little complex and intimidating to get started on, however, there are plenty of guides online that can help. 

The key to success with Google Adwords is constant monitoring and tweaking on your campaign. Just throwing a campaign up there isn’t likely to be a winning strategy. Remember, just like Facebook Ads, you initial costs to acquire you first customer might be pricey, they may even exceed the total price of your product. But again, you goal should be to learn more about each channel and not necessarily profitability at the start.

10. Write an Outreach Blog Post

An outreach blog post is a post that usually highlights, quotes or features other influential people in your niche. These types of blog posts are a popular tactic to begin building relationships with influential people that matter in your niche and to (hopefully) get them to share your blog post with their audience.

To start, you’ll want to make sure you craft a blog post with a purpose and that truly adds value. To do this, you’ll want to write a blog post related to your product or niche and include links, quotes or profiles of influential people that are related to your niche.

Keep in mind that when quoting or linking to influencers, you’ll want to start somewhat small, since you're still brand new. Look for influencers with blogs that have influence but aren't so big that your post and Tweets to them will go unnoticed. 

Once you've written the post, you'll want to send a personal email to the people you highlighted in your post and let them know that you like their work and have included them in your most recent post. It's usually best not to ask for anything in return (to share it), rather, let them decide on their own regard. If the post was good, there's a good chance they will share it.

As an additional benefit, this blog post will start to become part of your SEO. Remember, the more you write, the more there is for Google and other search engine to crawl and deliver as a potential result to someone’s search. 

Bonus: One Referral

If you’ve gotten this far, you should have a few sales under your belt. Your final bonus challenge is to get one referral sale. How? First, through each of your previous sales, you should have provided a superior experience that hopefully will translate into natural word of mouth referrals for your store, however, for this challenge, you’ll need to do some hard work. 

Your task is to email or call each of your previous sales personally and ask them about their experience with your store. Ask for any feedback on the sale and your product. Finally, ask them if they know anyone else they can refer you to that you can connect with that would also be interested in your product.

Followup with any referrals by email using the subject line: “Referred by (name of person that gave you their name)”.


Your first sales are some of the most important ones. They ignite the engines and get momentum going. The most important them to keep in mind is that your first sales will be some of the hardest while you're trying to find you way and understand the marketing recipe that works for your particular business and niche. Don't be afraid to spend some money and give out a few discounts to get that initial traction. Profitability will come in time as you fine tune your business, your offerings, your product/market fit and your marketing activities. 

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