Concept -> Design -> Build -> Launch (in 3 days)

over 6 years ago from , Designer & Web Developer

If you're like me you mull on ideas and develop them over time, finessing the details all before launching. Well last week I decided to experiment and change my tactic. Instead of the slow process I decided I'd come up with an idea and launch it within 3 days. The idea had to be fairly simple and easy to execute. I couldn't require anything that would eat hours of programming time.


Phase 1 – The Idea - Day One

Luckily I have no shortage of ideas. They come into my head at least a few times a day. I don't think there is any magic formula for idea generation - perhaps being a naturally curious person helps. I'm always looking at stuff and wondering how I would have done it, or how it could be improved. When I started thinking about what to build I remembered how bad Amazon was at showcasing products. I decided to make a site that would showcase products nicely … and I would target a niche market - people who are interested in and like Space related products. Total cost $0

Phase 2 - The Design - Day One

The site design was relatively simple. Large photos, and basic product info. Links needed to be affiliate links - to add a little monetization to the site. Good clean typography and a simple colour palette. This site was designed to appeal to a more design savvy audience, so less was more. Keeping it simple also would speed up site development. Extra functionality was added with plugins… again to speed things up. Total cost $0

Phase 3 - The Build - Day Two

To launch within the 3 day window I used Wordpress as the backend. Blog posts became products, and with a few fields added with ACF the backend was pretty much done. The front end was built off of my own custom framework I developed over the last year. It supplies an easy to use grid system and basic typographic styles. In 230 lines of CSS took my raw framework to something far more polished. It was quick, easy and effective.. Total Cost $0

Phase 3 - Launch - Day Three

I had purchased a domain on sale over at names.com for $7 I tied in my Amazon Affiliate account and started adding products. Each product take a total of 3 to 4 mins to add (longer to curate). I wanted a nice mix of products to launch with, although over time I'll add categories such as Toys / Posters etc… as the product catalogue grows. I also setup a Facebook and Instagram accounts. To get things started I put $25 into Facebook ads to test this niche market. So far I've managed to spend $3.60

Total Spend so far $10.60

You can see the results here:


I realize this doesn't account for my time. But it was done after hours so I counting it as a bootstrapped project.

I'll keep updating here on progress with this small side project. As with anything the hard part is really building an audience. Next steps will include twice daily Instagram and Facebook post, as well as listing a lot more Etsy products.

Any more advice / growth hacking would be much appreciated.


  • Jansen Tolle, over 6 years ago

    Make sure to set up your SSL! Free with LetsEncrypt.

    3 points
  • adrian ioadrian io, over 6 years ago

    Congrats on launching and keep us posted.

    You need to sort out the SSL warning though - I'm using a chromium based browser. I can imagine it's a big turn off getting that warning the first time you visit the site.

    2 points
    • Ian Clarke, over 6 years ago

      Thanks all. I can't replicate the SSL issue here on the mac but it's clearly an issue. For now I'm going to disable the Facebook like button as I suspect that's the issue.

      0 points
  • austen m, almost 6 years ago

    Any update on how your store is coming along?

    0 points
  • Ian Clarke, over 6 years ago

    Well That was short lived. Amazon reviewed the site and won't allow me to be an affiliate :( Thankfully I didn't invest too much money into this website (about $20 total).

    But hey, you live and learn!

    0 points
    • tim hickstim hicks, over 6 years ago

      Great work on the site and the super quick turn around... very impressive.

      I'm curious about the process of becoming an Amazon affiliate and why they declined you... Any info you might have would be great. Cheers!

      0 points
      • Ian Clarke, over 6 years ago

        They don't really offer explanations as to why they reject you (which I can understand given the amount of applications they get). But I do know, they prefer sites that are essentially blog that link out to products. For example if I had other pages on my site detailing how to decorate a child's room in a Space theme, and other things like that, then I might have been accepted. Plus I might have applied too early. Without driving a ton of traffic in reality they don't need my $200 a month I'd send their way.

        And I think they just dislike "catalogue" sites. Mine was curated, which at least offers some value, but I can see people abusing this and essentially rebuilding Amazon and linking out to them. It would weaken their brand.

        0 points
  • Ian Clarke, over 6 years ago

    SSL Update : It's finally fixed. What should really have been a simple fix proved to be a bit of a head scratcher.

    The problem... people were getting security errors on the site. Solution - Install LetsEncrypt Free SSL certificate

    Since I'm building this as cheap as possible I'm hosting it on Media Temples shared hosting. Their SSL certs are $70 a year. It was a one click solution but would eat away at the marginal profits, especially at the start. When following Media Temple's own guidelines on installing an SSL from LetsEncrypt I found myself way out of my depth in the land of Terminal, Home Brew, etc… To even generate a cert required a bunch of steps where I was essentially walking blind, just following onscreen instructions. One of MT's own commands caused me to get flagged when SSH'ed into my server, since I forgot to change a url in the command. In all it was adding up to a 2hr time sink that I'd have to repeat every 3 months. $70 was looking more and more like it would be leaving my bank account.

    Until I remembered Wordpress has a plugin for everything. As a developer I rarely rely on plugins unless used for special functionality. This was one of those occasions. Sure enough LetsEncrypt have a WP plugin. I installed it and a few clicks later my certs were generated. Easy as pie. Now to install them in Media Temple.

    In your account settings you can add an SSL to a domain. You have to manually copy in the Private Key, Cert and Chain. After grabbing the certs off the server using FPT I opened them in Sublime text and began copying and pasting in the text into MT's required fields. But no luck. I was getting errors that the Key was invalid. Totally frustrating. After a google search turned up that I might have to edit the text at the beginning and end of the Private Key to say something else I though I'd try that before pulling out my wallet. And lo and behold it worked. The SSL cert was accepted and installed. A silly 'gotcha' on Media Temple.

    Now I can finally get back to working on building the audience.

    Total Cost $0, but a whole lot of time.

    0 points
  • Ian Clarke, over 6 years ago

    UPDATE: So I'm working on installing an SSL - Media Temple don't make it easy since they want you to buy a $70 a year one from them. Since I'm trying to make this as cost effective as possible I'll be going the painful manual route. LetEncrypt for the win (hopefully).

    0 points