This was my very first attempt at blogging way back in 2015/2016 and basically where I cut my teeth on SEO and learning how to convert organic search traffic into money.
This article will specifically let you in on why I picked bow ties as a niche, how I built the site, and why I sold it.
Why I Started BeTheBowTieguy.com
I started BeTheBowTieGuy.Com mainly because I was fed up with the traditional 9-5 grind of my accounting job.
The funny thing is, I spent months studying for the CPA exam and “start my career” as an accountant, only to feel unfullfilled when I finally passed.
I was like that’s it? Do I make more money now? What’s next? Is my goal now to just become a better accountant?
From 2013 to 2016 those thoughts kept swirling around in my head, and it wasn’t until I watched an episode of Shark Tank that kicked things into gear.
Now I’ve watched Shark Tank before, but this particular episode, the one about “Mo’s Bows” where a young boy started a bow tie shop and made multiple $1,000’s of dollars online, made me realize something.
I thought to myself, if this little boy can crush it with his online store then I can figure something out to make a little cash on the side while working my day job as an accountant.
So that’s how it all started.
At the time, I was already into men’s fashion so bow ties made sense and really I just wanted to get started on SOMETHING because I knew nothing was going to change until I took some kind of action.
So I did.
Now remember, this was my very first online business. I didn’t do ANY market research. I didn’t have any intuition for what a good niche looked like, just a willingness to get started and learn.
So that’s what I did. I just soaked up every piece of material I could find on starting an online e-commerce shop. Read every blog post, watched every video, and just went after it.
Let me be clear, I do not recommend this approach. In hindsight, it was dumb of me to try and get into a business model I had no prior experience in. Approaching business (or really anything) like this has an extremely high chance of failure and risk of costly mistakes.
Instead, I would have looked for the best “guru” on starting an e-commerce business and bought his/her course and tried to get into some kind of mastermind with other people who already have existing successful e-commerces businesses.
This way it would have given me a blueprint for how to build the business and then an avenue to ask questions when I get stuck or need advice.
Instead I did it 100% on my own and ended up spending a lot of extra money I didn’t need to spend, added a lot more frustration, and probably wasted 1-2 years spinning my wheels.
So, what did I end up doing to actually make money from bow ties and recoup almost $50,000 in startup costs?
How I Built BeTheBowTieGuy.com
As you know from the previous section, I started BeTheBowTieGuy.com in 2015, but I didn’t formally “launch” until August of 2016.
From my salary and a little bit of credit card debt, I ended up buying about $38,000 worth of bow ties and paid for an $8,000 branding package and website. The image below is one of the shipments from Italy!
In order to actually sell these bow ties, I had to come up with some kind of marketing plan.
And remember, I’m an accountant crunching numbers during the day, trying to sell bow ties at night as a side hustle.
Most of my family knew what I was doing and was supportive although thought I was crazy.
Regardless, I needed to sell these bow ties and didn’t have any money for advertisements because I spent it all on bow ties and a website I ended up deleting about 6 months after I launched.
The big shift for me came when I attended a conference for men’s fashion bloggers and it turned me onto the idea of building out the blog and getting better at SEO to drive visitors to my site.
So that’s what I did.
I started blogging about bow tie style and rank for keywords like “how to wear a bow tie with a suit”. Below is a picture of me in the corner of my house!
I briefly attempted to start a YouTube channel (it’s still up!) to go along with this content. Here is my obligatory “how to tie a bow tie” video that I created to help aspiring bow tie wearers!
I’ll be honest… I quickly lost the motivation for those videos because they took so damn long to produce and the amount of people that actually came from YouTube and bought a bow tie was very low, so back to blogging and SEO!
What really worked, was targeting all the “bow ties with” phrases that I could think of like “bow ties with sweaters”, “bow ties with vests”, and “bow ties with suspenders”. The people types those queries into the search bar are likely my prospective customers.
All of this content started to rank and sales picked up.
And that content just kept sending traffic month after month, so I finally had a decent business cash flowing. Below you can see just how consistent the “bow ties with suits” piece performed over the months.
The only thing that sucked now was that I was still packing these orders myself and sending them to customers. I did that for 3 years, packing and shipping bow ties, every day.
Needless to say, when my pest site took off, packing and shipping $20 bow ties was falling on my “things to do” list.
Why I Sold BeTheBowTieGuy.com
After I had my blog generating me consistent traffic to my site I started to optimize the checkout experience, and sales started to go up. I ended up building BeTheBowTieGuy.com to a respectable $2,000/month in revenue driven 100% off of its blog and email list.
Still, I hated packing bow ties and my wife hated looking at me packing bow ties, so my time as The Bow Tie Guy had to come to an end.
To close things down, I listed the site on Flippa for $20,000 and it ended up selling after about 1-2 months for $15,000.
The selling process wasn’t too bad. I found a qualified buyer who had a pocket square company, and he was happy to take the business off my hands.
I was less concerned with getting the most for the business and more concerned with getting my time back, so I was happy to let it go for under my asking price.
Overall, I learned a crap ton about SEO, internet business, and selling websites during this experience meeting many people who would help shape my future and now career as an SEO and publisher, no longer an accountant.
Truth be told, I would not have started the pest site if I had not started the bow tie site. So moral of this story (cliche as it sounds) things tend to work out as long as you don’t give up.
I’m a big believer in the idea that if you put yourself in a position to be lucky, eventually you’ll be lucky.
Believe me, there were many times I thought about giving up and liquidating my entire stock of bow ties and just facing the shame that I failed. There were many sleepless night staring at boxes of bow ties no one was buying.
But still, it’s done and now 100% of my focus is building out blogs and monetizing them with affiliate offers, display ads, and lead generation agreements.
There is MUCH less overhead and cash needed to build these types of businesses, plus I’ve gotten pretty good at SEO, which reduces the risk of business failure to pretty low.