Case Study: A Video Critique Of My Student’s Online Shop Selling Travel Pillows

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As part of my online store course, I’ve implemented a rewards system where students can accumulate “points” for participating in various activities in the class.

Create A Profitable Online StoreFor example, class members can earn points for attending office hours, posting in the forums or reaching certain milestones with their online shops.

These points can then be redeemed for various prizes depending on the quantity.

One of most useful prizes I offer is the ability to trade in points for a video website critique.

And today, I want to share with you an online store critique that I recently did for Foxy Fly Travel, an online store that sells memory foam travel pillows to the Australian market.

A Special Thanks

First off, I just want to thank Marin and Jess for giving me permission to post this review publicly for my readers. Normally, all video critiques are strictly confidential and only available to members of the class.

And since I take a “no holds barred” approach to my critiques, it takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there for review so please be polite and respectful in the comments section after watching the review.

A Brief Introduction

foxy fly travel

In any case, here’s a little background about Marin and Jess so you can get to know them a little bit better and get some context for their entrepreneurial journey.

How did you come up with the idea for your niche?

It was actually quite difficult to come up with a niche that was in demand, not very competitive and something we enjoyed. Since we both love to travel, we thought it would be a good field to look into.

The idea for our niche came about when we were sitting on our couch watching TV!! One day we were at home lounging about and noticed that we had a microbead travel pillow on our couch that we had purchased on one of our trips.

We’ve had that travel pillow for quite some time but have only used it a handful of times as it wasn’t the most comfortable pillow to rest on (but Jess didn’t mind it so much)!

When we started searching for vendors, we sourced samples from many of them and found that the memory foam travel pillows were a lot more comfortable and felt far superior.

Ultimately, we found a vendor that could make pillows in different shapes and sizes as we realized what was comfortable for one of us wasn’t comfortable for the other.

Do you have a technical background?

Being in accounting and sales, we both work in an office and use a computer everyday. That’s about as technical as we get.

Why did you create this website and what is your goal with your business?

We started this website because it’s something we have wanted to do for a long time. We have always wanted to start an online business of some sort but didn’t know where to begin.

Since we are trying to start a family, we would love for it to be a source of extra income and our goal is for it to replace at least one of our salaries so that one or both of us can eventually quit our day job.

We are also planning to expand our product range to sell other travel accessories once we are successful in selling our memory foam travel pillows.

What other businesses have you started in the past?

We have never started any other business in the past. This is our first attempt.

Do you have a day job?

Yes we both have day jobs. I am an Accounts Payable Supervisor/Assistant Accountant for a private U.S owned company that manages prisons. Jess is a Sales & Marketing Co-ordinator for an Australian hotel chain.

What do you like about the course and how has it helped?

The thing we love most about the course is that it has given us motivation and a positive attitude towards giving it a shot. Before coming across Steve’s blog and course we never thought we could do anything like this.

We always wanted to start our own online store but had in our mind that it was way out of our league. But seeing so many other students in the course opening successful online stores has given us confidence.

Steve covers pretty much everything you need to know in his course such as video demonstrations for different stages of building your online store, website critiques on his students websites, giving feedback and the bonus of having a discussion section where we can ask questions to Steve and other students, etc.

Having that support has been extremely helpful and valuable. Without this course, we definitely wouldn’t have made it this far!

Why did you choose open source vs a fully hosted shopping cart or vice versa?

We chose an open source shopping cart because we wanted full control over our store and didn’t want to be limited or ask for assistance when changes were required. We wanted to be able to make tweaks and changes whenever we needed to ourselves.

We also figured that we would learn more doing it this way and be more involved technically to get a better understanding which is what we wanted. We chose Open Cart because of its simple admin backend and because we liked the Shoppica theme.

What was the most challenging part about starting an online store?

We have found many things to be challenging with starting our online store; such as:

  • Learning and making changes to the HTML, CSS and PHP code.
  • Taking our own product pictures and making them look professional.
  • Writing the content.
  • Marketing our store to attract customers/traffic and converting them to sales.
  • The initial stage of finding a reliable vendor and having a backup in case something happened.

But the most challenging part was staying motivated and pushing through the road blocks. We have found ourselves being stuck on certain things for long periods of time and becoming disheartened on several occasions.

It’s been a real challenge to get past those moments but we’ve come to realize that once we worked through whatever the issue was, we felt a sudden rush of confidence and excitement to continue on.

The Video Critique

Below is the actual website critique that I gave Marin and Jess during one of my office hour sessions. While it’s still early and they haven’t implemented many of my suggestions yet, they recently received their first few sales!

Here are a few technical specs regarding their website for your knowledge.

Start Your Own Online Store

If you are interested in starting your own online store, feel free to check out my course at And please feel free to leave your own feedback for Marin and Jess in the comments section below. They will appreciate your opinion.

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?

If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's free and you'll receive weekly ecommerce tips and strategies!

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18 thoughts on “Case Study: A Video Critique Of My Student’s Online Shop Selling Travel Pillows”

  1. sofia says:

    Thank you Steve for this video ! I’m so happy they made their first sales already 🙂
    I’ve been meaning to ask you to do sort of a review /critique on the new google keyword tool , the keyword planner. I think it’s much better now, but I’m a little confused by some of the parameters. Also I seem to have far more researches for my keywords now..which is a bit weired !


    1. Steve C says:

      Hi Carla,

      I just created one for my class, but perhaps I might make it public on the blog.

      1. sofia says:

        That would be great if you could, thank you !

  2. paul says:

    This is a great video critique and a great deal can be learned by watching it. One question I have is about content rich sites, I was under the impression the more content the better and I didn’t really see that talked about much.


    1. Steve C says:

      Hey Paul,

      It’s no longer a numbers game when it comes to content. Quality matters more. Jess’s store just launched so she doesn’t have that much content yet but blogging will definitely be a part of her marketing strategy.

  3. bruce amor says:

    would you give my site a review?
    I am new business and followed yer steps to start my site.

    I enjoy reading you’re wisdom and advice.



    1. Steve C says:

      Hi Bruce,

      Sorry, but I only perform critiques for students in the class.

  4. Stu Lim says:

    I am really amazed at the efforts you put to coach your students.
    The video critique is a great learning tool. thanks for sharing.

    1. Steve C says:

      Thanks Stu,
      I try my best. It feels really good to to watch people succeed and I kind of feed off of it.

  5. Heather Stone says:

    Hi Steve,
    I love the idea of a critique video as a prize. It has the added benefit of being helpful to everyone else who visits your site as well when you post it. I’m wondering, while we’re on the subject, whether you have any tips for others who want to create critique videos. I’m sure just about everyone has some expertise to share in terms of giving feedback on someone else’s work. And it seems to me offering video critiques of things could be a very helpful add-on to an existing service or perhaps even a service itself. Is there anyway you could give us all a little tutorial on the basics of creating a good video critique in the BizSugar comment section.

  6. Anouk says:

    This was very interesting to watch! A lot of information to improve an online store for beginners. I would like to see better pictures of the pillow.

  7. Carole@Rustic Artistry says:

    Great idea to do video critiques. I’d gladly pay for such a service. Re: keyword stuffing their category page titles, where do you insert those keywords? The tab that shows up for my category pages just shows my website name.

    1. Steve C says:

      Hi Carole,
      Most carts allow you to change the title and meta tags. I would ask your provider.

  8. Ben Pan says:

    Hi Steve

    I recently signed for your free course, and it is a no-brainer to sign on for the full course. The video critique is just awesome.

  9. john o says:

    Hi steve I’m just getting my computer fixed And going to pay the $800 for your class. When I learn how I will have about $2000 to start. But I don’t know what to sell. Do people ship there products themselves. Do you need a camera no matter what?

  10. Dave Campbell says:

    How long does it take to finish the course and have a online business launched, We have our nich already.

  11. Ed Harris says:

    Been reading your mini-course and we are think about buying your bigger
    course. Do you still offer a 4 payment plan for the course?

  12. neck pillow says:

    Good Day!!Nice blog..Thanks for sharing with us..

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