There’s an increasing number of free courses created by ‘internet marketing experts’ these days, and one of it is called the Zero Up Lab, created by a bubbly chap called Fred Lam. It is said that his tutorial can help anyone build an online store from zero – no experience, minimal budget – so it seems pretty beginner-friendly to me, or is it?
Firstly, let’s have a look at what’s inside. The course is basically a 10-part video training that walks you through the following topics step-by-step.
- Niche Selection
- Getting Started With Shopify
- Inventory Arbitrage
- The Tripwire Strategy
- Turbocharging Your Online Store
- Creating a Facebook Presence
- How to Set Up for Facebook Advertising
- Creating Your First Facebook Ad
- How to Optimize Your Facebook Ads
- Scaling Up
However, to get access to the course, you must first create a Shopify store (using the 14 days free trial) and install the Zero Up Lite app which contains all the links to the tutorials. From there, you can watch the videos right from the Shopify dashboard.
So, what can you learn from this free course? Here’s what I found out.
I like that Fred uses the Amazon marketplace as an example because it’s great for brainstorming niche ideas and their business model is very relevant to the basics of online marketing. He also spent a good hour teaching you how to select a domain name and come up with a good logo for branding.
2) If you don’t know where to source for products, video 3 will show how to search for vendors/suppliers from Aliexpress where things can be acquired at a very low price, hence keeping your cost of operation minimal.
3) If you want to reach out to certain segments of Facebook audience, video 6 to 9 will offer insights on how to go about marketing in one of the most widely used social platforms.
Up until here, it does seem like you are gaining a ton of knowledge and your business will skyrocket if you follow each and every step. The model that Fred is teaching is essentially called drop shipping and although this is a legitimate business, it has many downsides that one needs to be aware of.
I find that the course is very product-selling oriented. Most of the time, you are taught to analyze cost and profit margin, rather than testing the quality of the product yourself.
It gives one an impression that the more products that get listed in the online store, the more sales you would generate. That’s not entirely true.
1) Instead of focusing on one niche, you are taught to go into multiple niches by creating several online stores using the same strategy. This hunger for profit making can actually lead to some undesired consequences.
2) The traffic generation strategy is primarily focused on Facebook advertising, nothing in depth when it comes to PPC (pay per click) on Google/Bing search engines. While targeted traffic is better for conversion, I wouldn’t recommend this route for beginners (people who are starting from zero) because it can be a very costly affair.
3) Lastly, if you joined their Facebook group hoping to look for support, you might be disappointed. You don’t see Fred around helping out in the discussion area and secondly, because Facebook is more like a timeline post, it’s difficult to see/read a previous discussion that could be relevant to one’s situation.
Hence, there are a lot of redundant questions that no one is interested in answering – not even the administrative staff themselves.
What’s The Catch?
Obviously, Fred isn’t just going to offer his knowledge for nothing. The main objective here is to sell his product, Zero Up which is an eCommerce automation software that has the ability to sync products from Aliexpress to your Shopify store and speed up your email campaigns.
Needless to say, when you buy this package, you’ll also get private access to Fred’s personal coaching. And just how much would all of these cost you?
A whopping $1497!
In case you don’t know, this price is exclusive of your domain fee, Shopify hosting fee AND the monthly budget needed to invest for your advertising campaign across various channels.
As mentioned before, this isn’t the route that I would recommend for someone who’s trying to start an online business on a shoestring budget, because you could end up spending more than you can afford.
What Fred Didn’t Tell You…
When you go through the course, it seems like you are required to get this and that in order to generate profitable sales. But here are the things that Fred didn’t tell you;
- You don’t need a landing page or a funnel builder to attract visitors. They are nice to have, but not necessary.
- You shouldn’t go into advertisement until you have a good grasp about how keyword research works (an important topic that isn’t covered in the 10 part video training) because online ads is all about bidding on these words.
- Listing more products wouldn’t lead to more sales – you are merely creating a thin eCommerce content that Google frowns upon and doesn’t provide any valuable information for the readers. A product oriented site might make a sale or two, but it wouldn’t establish a long term customer relationship.
You can absolutely make money through organic (free) traffic where 70% of the people would click through when they look for information online. If you know how SEO works, you would find that content ranks and converts just as effective as paid traffic.
So, Is Zero Up Training Worthy of Your Time?
If you have experience in doing retails or already have a social following on Facebook, this course might turbocharge your marketing through paid advertisement.
However, if you are more interested in creating a business that provides value to people rather than pushing products, running a niche blog is better for growing a genuine online audience and reputation with the search engines.
Through partnering with affiliate programs, you can keep your cost of operation really low (just domain and web hosting) without having to run any payment processing on your website.
In my opinion, this is an easier route from a beginner’s perspective. To learn more about starting an affiliate business from scratch, please check out my recommended training platform here.
Have thoughts or questions about this topic? Feel free to leave them in the comment area below and I’ll get back to you as soon.
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