Well, it finally happened… Earnings from my main Shopify store finally passed the seven figure mark on August 27th, 2020. Talk about a proud day. I made $1m with my Shopify store 🙂
Shall I drop the obligatory Dr Evil photo to celebrate this fine moment?
Go on then…
True it was a great day, but I’ve been battling to get here for a long time.
It took me 4 years, 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days to make $1m from my Shopify store.
$1million in sales should have come way sooner. I was on schedule to hit the $1m mark back in 2019. I’ll write more about why it didn’t happen below, so keep reading 🙂
This Shopify store was started on April 4th, 2016. It seems like so long ago now. Sales on the first day totalled $19.90, which was 2 x $9.95 items.
Yep, back then I was doing the ‘free+shipping’ method that was popular a few years ago. This is where you ‘give away’ an item for free, but charge $9.95 for shipping. The item itself costs $1-$2, sometimes less, and what’s left over is your profit (minus adspend and other costs of course).
I don’t see many people using this method nowadays, and for good reason. The items you have to sell at $9.95 are notoriously low quality, the Ali Express sellers that provide them are usually shady, profit margins are super low, and overall profits even lower, unless you are pushing huge numbers. Yep… I sure had a lot to learn in those days.
Still, back to the here and now in 2020. Obviously that seven figures didn’t come in all at once. And there’s a whole heap of costs associated with running an ecommerce business. The more you make – the more your costs go up…
That million dollars isn’t all yours, is it?
Correct. The $1m I ‘made’ with my Shopify store is not all mine. Not at all 🙂 This is why whenever you see other marketers posting their Shopify screenshots in YouTube videos or Facebook groups never assume that the full amount is theirs. Ever.
If you know what you are doing with Shopify & Facebook Ads, expected profits are usually about 20-25%. And this is if you know what you are doing. Plenty of people out there pushing huge numbers are making 15-20% overall profit, sometimes less. So don’t get too impressed with all the huge numbers in screenshots you might see floating around 😉 Divide the total shown by 5 and you’ll be closer to the mark of what their profit actually is.
Running an ecommerce business incurs a lot of costs. If you’re running Facebook Ads, roughly half of what you see in any Shopify screenshot will be adspend. Then you have COGs (cost of goods), staff wages, credit card processor fees, design costs, Paypal fees, refunds, then there’s service costs including but not exclusive to : Shopify bills, autoresponder fees, Shopify apps, domains, and other services such as Clickfunnels or Zapier… all this soon adds up and of course eats into your bottom line.
So break it down – how much did you actually earn?
I’d say at a rough estimate about 30-35% of the $1m is profit. This, however, is because such a big percentage of my money comes in from emailing, which costs way less than running ads all the time. True, you have to pay a monthly fee for an autoresponder, and the more leads you have on your lists the more this costs, but loading up an email then clicking send is essentially free, and I do this 7 days a week. Load. Click send. Make money on auto pilot. No paying for ads. More about this further down the post.
I do keep monthly spreadsheets detailing costs and overall profit but I’ve never gone back and added them all up. I’ve also gone thru a fair few Facebook business managers so no longer have access to older adspend statistics. This income is spread over 4 and a third years remember – doing all those sums would be a massive task and I’d rather write this blog post instead.
Moving on – let’s take a look at each year in turn and break the numbers down a little more.
Year 1. April 4 2016 – April 4 2017
Not a bad beginning for year 1. I’ll point out that this wasn’t starting from scratch. Before starting this store I’d been doing ecommerce roughly ten months and had 2 other stores. The first one I had did remarkably well and made about $400k but I was selling trademarked items (a classic sign of being a newbie). Following a couple of C&Ds, I had to close it down. The 2nd was a bit of a non starter and at this point, I already had plans for a third niche store which is the one in all these screenshots.
By this time I’d caught the bug and realised how much money you can turn over doing ecommerce if you put your mind to it.
Sidenote – even though emailing is a lot more prominent with ecom stores in 2020, back in 2016 not that many people were doing much with it at all. They’d open a store, run Facebook Ads to it and that was about it.
Before moving into ecommerce, both myself and the guy I started this store with were making good money from emailing and solo ads. We decided right from the start to include an email strategy alongside everything we did. We captured emails from customers on the store itself using a pop up, as well as running lead campaigns to build lists, then we’d mail said lists every week with details of new products, special offers, discount codes, etc.
Over year 1 we definitely spent more money growing email lists than we did running individual ‘product campaigns’. Our income could have been higher perhaps, but after the first 12 months we had a good few huge email lists that continued to make us money week in, week out.
This strategy has worked out incredibly well over 4+ years and I’d say it’s been responsible for about 10-15% of the $1m mentioned in this post. To this day I still build lists and send out promotional emails 7 days a week.
If you run a store yourself I strongly recommend you do the same.
Other Shopify screenshots you may see on social platforms, will mostly consist of income from paid ads – whether that is Facebook or Google.
Profit from my screenshots in this post will be slightly higher than a lot of others you see posted everywhere on social media.
Emailing is so damn good as you can send details of several items at once to potential customer and get a gauge on what they like, what will sell, and most importantly what won’t. It was from emailing we caught onto our first few winners during year 1 and went onto expand income by running Facebook Ads to them on the store. We had 1 item do $40k, another $24k, a $17k, a $16k, plus a whole load of other income that was constantly coming in thru emailing. We continued to add products to the shop, build up its inventory, and grow our email lists. $286k over 12 months = about $23.8k a month.
I’ll get into email strategies further in future blog posts and again on my YouTube channel, so look out for that. In the meantime, onto :
Year 2. April 4 2017 – April 4 2018
A slight drop during year 2 compared to year 1 but never the less still a solid 12 months. We continued pushing our $40k winner from the year before and managed to get another $52k out of it. See the upswing on the screenshot towards the end of the year? This was a necklace that someone pointed me towards, and by year 2 end I’d shifted nearly 1k units for $28k. Clothing had started to do well on the store, plus many other items we continued to push thru our email lists and some Facebook campaigns. During year 2 my partner and I went out separate ways and I took over the shop on my own. $260k over 12 months = about $21.6k a month.
Year 3. April 4 2018 – April 4 2019
An $80k increase on the previous year and it was during these 12 months as things continued to rise that I moved into a co-working office space sometime in August. This did wonders for my productivity and I started working harder than ever.
By complete fluke, less than a month later, I hit my first real BIG winner. Funnily enough it wasn’t even related to the niche that this store is in. Early September I saw another ad pushing it with a lot of engagement, ripped off a YouTube video showing it in action, re-edited it, made a quick Facebook ad on a whim and boom – it took off like a rocket ship on day 1. The whole process detailed there took me less than an hour, and the product in question did $165k revenue during year 3 – almost half of the entire amount you see above.
Our other main winner from years 1 and 2 died down a little, only doing $12k, but the necklace from year 2 continued to do well with a further 1400 units shifted for $42k. The rest, as usual, was made up from my relentless 7 days a week emailing campaigns. $340k over 12 months = about $28.3k a month.
Side note : my big winner I talk about above eventually shifted over 5700 units and pulled in more than $174,000 in total.
It was in year 3 though, right at the start of February, that disaster struck….
I got sick. And I mean really sick. More sick than I’d ever been before.
Note the huge downturn on the last screenshot from Feb thru April. I caught glandular fever which knocked me on my back. I was so sick and sapped of energy I could hardly get out of bed for over a month. I was crawling to the toilet, had zero energy, and could definitely not work. At this point I was spending over $1k a day on Facebook ads and pushing my new winner as hard as I could. I’d mostly set up a brand new one product store to take things to the next level and was raring to go, but just couldn’t do anything. One by one all my ads died off and I was way too sick to even think about making new ones, let alone launch my new store.
Things got progressively worse, as my glandular fever turned into post viral chronic fatigue. This was a right b*stard, as there’s nothing you can do about it. Doctors diagnose this when they don’t know what to tell you anymore. I’d had blood test after blood test, all of them coming back clean. But a few months later I was still too weak and sick to walk down the road and go shopping. I was bored out of my mind lying in bed the whole time.
To cut a long story short, out of the 18 months following February 2019, I was in bed for 12 of them. Yep – a whole year in bed. I’ll save you any more details as it all gets a bit long and tedious, but you can see the effects of not being able to work for so long in :
Year 4. April 4 2019 – April 4 2020
It’s a horror show up in here. These numbers are that bad I’m not even going to watermark this screenshot. $38k in 12 months 🙁 My best month in year 3 netted me over $60k so you can imagine how hard it was lying in bed watching everything I’d built go down the pan. I was fully drained of energy, stressing over everything that was going on, and still absolutely unable to work. The income you see here is purely from emailing, which had also dropped off massively by this point as I’d had to turn off all my ad campaigns. No lists were building, nothing was going on. I had a VA making the emails for me every week, so they were going out, and a dribble of income was coming in. $38k over 12 months = about $3.1k a month. Booo.
So let’s stagger on into year 5…
Year 5. April 4 2020 – August 30 2020 (the day I wrote this post)
As you can see from April 4th onwards, things were still in the toilet for a while. In fact let me do a screenshot from April – June :
I was still cruising along on full auto with emails built by one of my VAs. I was pulling in a little more than $3k a month income for these 3 months.
I was feeling a little better by now, and a good friend of mine basically handed me a winner. He runs multiple stores and was too busy to promote it himself at that time. He handed me everything. Artwork, demographics, encouragement, the full 9. I plugged it in, the ad took off straight away, and I started scaling as you can see below. Here’s July-August 2020….
$77k in 2 months = $38.5k a month. That’s more like it!!
This screenshot shows the one new winner I’m currently pushing, plus a little income from emailing as usual. As of August 30th 2020 I’ve shifted 1,471 units of the new winner and it’s showing no sign of slowing down.
With Q4 just around the corner, the busiest time of the calendar year for ecommerce – I have plans to open another 2 stores and really push things on the lead up to Christmas.
And here ends the (pretty long – sorry!) post about my $1m in Shopify sales.
I hope you got a bit of a better idea about how Shopify income, profits, costs, ads…. and more actually work when you are doing ecommerce.
Once again – don’t get too impressed when you see people posting their Shopify screenshots. A lot of the time, they aren’t even theirs, and when they are, divide all totals by at least 5 to get a true idea of profit.
This is my first post in a while so I hope it reads ok. I have plenty more planned so please bookmark Internet Bling and make sure to check back often.
I also have a YouTube channel here. Please go take a look and subscribe 🙂
Here’s my YouTube video on how I made $1m with my Shopfiy store :
See you in the next one!