2 minute read


Hey there, fellow tech enthusiasts! If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re knee-deep in lines of code or passionately navigating through the dynamic world of technology. But today, I’m going to steer away from the usual tech talk and delve into something different – the inspiring journey of a friend who embarked on an e-commerce adventure after a sudden layoff from a tech giant. Intrigued? Let’s dive in! Meet my buddy, a fellow Android engineer, who recently found himself at the crossroads after a workforce reduction at his former tech mecca. Rather than immediately plunging into another corporate rabbit hole, he dared to tread the path less taken – he started his own print-on-demand ecommerce store, Prototype44 (https://prototype44.com).

Setting Up Shop: Tech Savvy Entrepreneurship

Now, if you’re thinking setting up an online shop is a piece of cake, think again. It’s a trio of crucial components: shop setup, product creation, and the ultimate art of selling. My friend smartly employed Shopify for his storefront and partnered with Printful to handle manufacturing and shipping. On the up side, there’s minimal upfront capital investment. On the downside, the margins are thin because everyone wants their piece of profit.

However, tech background or not, there were logical necessities like securing a business address (bye-bye, home address exposure), configuring payment methods, and crafting a shop identity. Speaking of identity, my friend relied on BrandCrowd for logo wizardry. And oh, the name – the quest for a perfect name was like debugging, so he settled for the best one he could muster. Intrigued by the name’s origin? You can peek at the backstory here.

The Art of Product Creation: From Pixels to Profit

As programmers, neither my friend nor I are Picasso, so designing visuals was a challenging ordeal. He hopped on the generative AI train, which, while promising, still delivers eggs with square wheels (figuratively, of course). Imagine planes with five wings – an avant-garde concept for sure! Tools like Midjourney and Creative Fabrica’s Spark danced on his screen, with the latter winning due to its preschool-appropriate charm.

Real images played their part too. Sites like Unsplash offered license-free images, which were then transmuted into artistry through BeFunky and fine-tuned with the open-source champion, GIMP.

Salesmanship: It’s More than 1s and 0s

Now, the real showstopper: selling. Sure, Shopify lends its integrative prowess, but each sales channel offers its own obstacle course. Google demands a Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), which doesn’t play well with print-on-demand’s spontaneity. And then there’s the mystic art of online ads. Did you know that TikTok ads bat between 0.5% and 1% in click-through rates (CTR)? That’s 1000 pairs of eyeballs for less than 10 to actually click. The fun doesn’t stop there – the conversion rate, the magic number that determines how many of those clickers turn into buyers. Paying for impressions can dent your digital wallet, so the long-term strategy is embracing the SEO realm.

If you’re ready to face the SEO dragons, Google provides a toolkit (Google Merchant Center and Google Search Console) to gauge your website’s visibility and customer reach.

Conclusion: A Journey Just Begun

And there you have it, the tale of a programmer-turned-ecommerce maverick, a journey still in its infancy. As his adventure unfolds, I’ll be sure to keep you posted. Got your own side saga to share? Feel free to chime in with your tech-ventures! Until next time, fellow engineers, keep coding and conquering – both in the digital realm and the commerce cosmos!