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How to give up your day job: shows how to make e‑retail work

As any e‑commerce ana­lyst can tes­ti­fy, you can’t sit back and wait for the dol­lars to roll in just because you’ve built a web­site. That’s a les­son Jake Ball learnt after buy­ing the domain name “” back in 2005.

Ball admits that he thought he’d get rich after cre­at­ing his online store; but for six years he sat around wait­ing for orders and only man­aged to attract a hand­ful each day. Not exact­ly a recipe for giv­ing up the day job and hir­ing a web con­tent man­ag­er or e‑commerce manager.

Invest­ing time and money

After a lit­tle delib­er­a­tion, Ball decid­ed to com­mit to the busi­ness and plow some cap­i­tal into it. He approached web devel­op­ment firm Trib­ute Media in his Ida­ho home­town of Boise, who imme­di­ate­ly set about mak­ing the site more pro­fes­sion­al and sug­gest­ed that Ball attend the Inter­net Retail­er Con­fer­ence & Exhi­bi­tion in Chica­go last year.

That proved to be the turn­ing point he need­ed. He learned about that mag­i­cal three-let­ter acronym, “SEO”, found some entic­ing new soft­ware for his site and began engag­ing cus­tomers and build­ing his busi­ness upon his return.

His next step was to hire anoth­er Boise-based firm, Page One Pow­er, to build cus­tom links for from oth­er sites (like par­ent­ing sites) which were rel­e­vant to his online store and its key­words. The results were impres­sive, dri­ving more traf­fic to the retail­er and appre­cia­bly ele­vat­ing its search engine rankings.

Good­bye day job, hel­lo e‑commerce

Ball now has 10–12 orders each day and is well on course to hit 70 a day by the close of the year. That trans­lates into $1.5 mil­lion per year – a plen­ty good-enough basis to kiss good­bye to that day job after all.

Ball has been on a steep but prof­itable learn­ing curve. He says: “You can’t just sell cheap­er than oth­ers.” He’s put a lot of effort into mak­ing his online book­store unique, per­son­al­ly writ­ing book reviews and arti­cles aimed at par­ents and teach­ers about lit­er­a­cy and encour­ag­ing chil­dren to read. There’s also a children’s author’s sec­tion fea­tur­ing biogra­phies, inter­views and book lists.

His ver­dict?

“Your project is nev­er done, you just get lit­tle mile­stones and have to move on to the next thing. The minute a site is ‘done,’ it starts stalling. If you don’t inno­vate, you’re toast.”


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