Part of starting a blog, website or online business is getting the name right.
MiddleClassGuy.com is not the greatest name, I know. I had contemplated starting a blog for at least four years prior to doing so on 9/11 of 2016, fifteen months and 221 posts ago.
I had written of it briefly in my first post, What’s In a Name? Just as I was ready to call it MiddleClassMan, a name that I had hedged about for weeks, someone else purchased the domain name. As of today, the site remains undeveloped. The reason for my hesitance was the way one would read and pronounce it.
Because you cannot have spaces between words on a domain, I did not want people to interpret the “ClassMan” aspect of it as in “underclassman” or “upperclassman.” I wanted the “Class” and “Man” to stand on their own.
After explaining my dilemma to my wife, she suggested “MiddleClassGuy” and I jumped on it. Hence the name of the blog you are reading. I am, in fact, an extremely middle class guy, also middle aged and a resident of the Midwest. I do recognize that “MiddleAgedMiddleClassMidwestGuy.com” is an even worse handle than the one that I use.
Oh well, I paid for three years of web hosting and it is unlikely that I will want to extend it after September of 2019, twenty-one months from now. Prior to that time, I plan on downloading all my posts to a USB drive for improvement and future use.
Anyhow, the current problem with my name does not pertain to the name that was given to me by my parents in November of 1970 or MiddleClassGuy.com.
My current problem is with what my future e-commerce site will be named. Also, since I plan on writing about it extensively in future posts, I am going to use the term e-commerce rather than eCommerce or E-Commerce, two other iterations of the word that I have read. Don’t like it? Argue with Mirriam-Webster.
As I wrote, my e-commerce site does not yet exist. I may only sell one scarf on it and it may be to my own mother, but I know that it will exist at some point in time. I could sell more than that because if I told my brother about it, he would order a thousand dollars worth of stuff just to be nice. That’s only a half joke; he probably would.
I recognize that one of my problems is that I often overthink things. Other more aggressive would-be entrepreneurs would just snap up a domain name and either start designing the site themselves or hiring someone to do it for them. I may go that route, but I am a skeptic by nature and would not be very comfortable hiring someone who I do not really know or trust to design it for me. Plus, that is an expense that I may not be ready to incur.
However, as I have often written, my middle class family of four typically “spends” ten grand or more per month simply sustaining our lifestyle. It is not all “spending,” since I typically invest a thousand dollars or more per month and about a quarter of the ten grand goes to our son’s college for tuition, room and board.
So if I do spend a thousand bucks developing a website for e-commerce, and then it becomes a major flop, I suppose that I could write it off and get over it. One of my preliminary resolutions for 2018 is to fail at something, so an e-commerce site may be it. Allow me to elaborate. I do not really want to fail, but I have been so conservative and risk-averse for so many years that my hesitancy or unwillingness to take a risk has had the result of me never having reaped a financial reward or started my own business even though, like millions of others, I feel a strong desire to do so and to ultimately be my own boss.
Many of the books that I have read extol the virtue of trying something that you may fail at and cite the past failures of those who have gone to achieve greatness. Not that I have never failed, I just have not failed at anything highly risky or considered big. I have played it safe for the most part, which has resulted in my long tenure in local government although even that is becoming stressful, difficult and not without risk.
The riskiest financial thing that I have done over the past several years is purchased over a thousand shares of NUGT, a triple-leveraged gold miner stock that has me down over seven thousand dollars as we speak.
Last year, I sold some shares for a seven thousand dollar gain. Not so much since then. Had I just invested all that cash into developing and cultivating an e-commerce site, I may have ended up on a path to wealth today. Woulda Coulda Shoulda…
The bee in my bonnet started with reading dozens of “how I made it rich” articles on the CNBC and Business Insider sites. I read tales of how people made millions by reselling discount goods purchased from closeout shelves of discount retailers, how people made big money creating classes on teachable.com and Udemy.com, how a woman made big money by selling tee-shirts that she created, how bloggers made big money packaging blog posts into eBooks (like I am currently doing) and on and on.
The one that struck me hardest was about the 33-year-old guy who started LDSMan.com made a million bucks reselling cheap crap made in China via his e-commerce site. I would bet that a million other people had the same thought of “I should do that,” but how many would actually try to? I intend to try, but on a much smaller scale and not right away. As I wrote, I am painstakingly methodical, perhaps too methodical, and I want to learn the “hows” of doing something like that before taking a giant leap into failure.
Which leads to the problem with my name.
I do not wish to repeat the mistake that I have made and learned from with the name “Middle Class Guy.” First and foremost, the name would turn off anyone from the fairer sex. I sure would not look at a website with the name “girl,” “woman” or “gal” in it. Also, people are more interested in more upscale things than reading about the long-term struggles of a guy trying to make it in this life. There are millions of words in the English language that would pique one’s interest more than “middle class.” After all, this site is not a political campaign.
So what kind of names am I contemplating? Let me share some thoughts.
The first few names that came to my mind were plays on the word “seller.” I thought that Buyer’s Celler would be good, but found that it is already taken. I like the name Discount Celler too, but found it to be available at a steep premium price of $1,995, or about $1,900 more than I am willing to pay. The third one that I checked on, Discount Den, already exists, as does the name Bargain Basement. Oh for my first four.
Others that I thought of in my own head and then found to be already taken include Savvy.com.
A One-Word Name
Most of the biggest and best-known businesses have a one-word name that says it all: Apple, Google, Uber, Amazon, Target, Kohl’s or Walmart. As hard as I thought about this, I could not come up with a single word that exemplifies what I envision the site to be. Being the old-school kind of middle aged guy that I am, I may just sit down with a dictionary over the next few days and page through it looking for words that could evoke some type of reaction among the online shopping public.
Not a Mart
Speaking of Walmart, I have considered some type of mart. After all, as K-Mart continues to sink into the abyss, couldn’t a new online retailer find some small percentage of sales with a similar name? There is an H-Mart grocery store in our area and Walmart is the biggest retailer in the world, still outpacing Amazon by a wide margin. I just checked, and the online “Mart” with my first initial already exists. EMart is already a huge Chinese e-commerce site. Marts are out.
I have checked on a bunch of names, and Thrifty may end up being part of the name. Not that I am the thriftiest person around and neither is my wife. But that does not mean that I could not own and operate a website with the word in its name.
While writing this, I recalled and looked up that the name on its own is yet another car rental agency. Come to think of it, I have rented a car with them before many years ago.
Not a Long, Truthful Name
What do you think of the name “Cheap Crap and Junk Made in China and resold for a modest profit”?
I do not think it is so good, either.
Speaking of Profit
Thinking about making a modest profit caused me to think of another play on words. As of today, Sunday, December 17th, 2017, the domain name “Modest Prophet” is still available.
I love the name, but it lends itself more to another type of website besides e-commerce. I am not entirely certain whether it would best fit a religious or psychobabble site, but it is not a name that I would go to to purchase a knock-off smartwatch.
Speaking of Smart
As consumers, Americans love the word “smart” in what they buy. Do you have a smartphone? A smartwatch? Smart appliances? A smart home?
Folks, these things are not smart. They are Internet-enabled. They are programmable and can be controlled remotely or programmed. Your kid is smart. You are smart. Your thermostat is programmable or remotely controlled.
Nevertheless, I am contemplating “smart” in the name. People like to buy “smart” things and think that means that they, too, are smart.
While writing this, I thought of combining “Smart” with the word “Mart.” Apparently, I am smart to think of this, but not as smart as whoever owns this domain and is selling it for $747,500, or more than the net worth of my family three times over.
I was born in a hospital about thirty miles away from where I write this in my den, grew up in the same town where I was born, and have never traveled outside of the U.S. My parents did take us to the Bahamas once, but we did not have passports at the time. Other than that, I have spent my time in the continental United States with two trips to Puerto Rico.
I am an American by birth, as is my wife. Both of my parents and all four of my grandparents were born in Chicago. All eight of my great-grandparents were Jewish immigrants. As I recently learned, most of them escaped persecution in Lithuania around the turn of the century but, unfortunately, many of them did not survive.
Despite being a third generation Chicagoan by birth, I will not use American in the name. I am a genuinely patriotic person, so much so that I have beefs with many other countries. Not to the extent that Trump does, but my wife and kids are tired of hearing me rail against other countries that I was going to write about, but think it better not to here and now. I do not want to alienate more readers than I already have.
Because I wish to make my modest profits by selling goods made in other countries for cheap, I recognize it to be disingenuous to use the name American and depict the flag or other patriotic icons while reselling things made by quasi-slave labor in the Orient and elsewhere.
In the past weeks, through my many subscriptions, I have read about retailers like Warby Parker, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton and other names that evoke high end products for the well-to-do.
Again, as I contemplate reselling cheap crap made in China, I am not going to use a made up name that would appeal to a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant or other shopper of substantial means.
Like my blog and like my life, I want to appeal to the middle class. MiddleClassMart.com is available, but like the blog name, I do not think that limiting the appeal to middle class shoppers and further pushing class warfare, so to speak, would be a good move. Don’t you agree?
One thing that I know is that it will not be a highfalutin e-commerce site selling hundred dollar scarves to rich women. At least not to start.
Not Fair Trade and Not Main Street
The products that I will sell would most likely be the opposite of fair trade. I do support fair trade and I occasionally shop at a fair trade store in a neighboring community, but when it comes to the goods that I intend to sell, I probably do not even want to know who or in what conditions they are made.
Like LDSMan.com uses, I have been studying items on sale at both Alibaba.com and Aliexpress.com. Neither make mention of who makes the things. I have also been studying my Hong Kong Trade Development Council yearbook extensively and suspect that those items are also made in less than stellar conditions by workers who earn a small fraction of what Americans would.
The HKTDC is so good at tracking who looks at their goods online that I have now been receiving emails from their producers regularly, without ever having entered any of my information in a website.
I cannot even read the last one that I received hourse after browsing their goods, although I know that Google would gladly translate it for me.
Do you know what this says?:
From: djd79235113r mailto:email@example.com
Sent: Thursday, December 14, 2017 2:13 AM
To: Middle Class Guy
我们推出第三种主流的外贸客户开发模式，让您的潜在客户无所遁形,先入为主的抢占 先机,成功从创新开始。在日益竞争激烈的外贸市场，多条渠道就是多一份机会，主动 出击，势在必行。
If I had to hazard a guess, I think that the email includes an offer similar to what I would make to my own customers in the future to purchase something now at a discount. I understand the English part of it noting that I could pay them via the Hong Kong-based version of PayPal called WeChat.
As much as I like working with small mom-and-pop businesses in my professional work as a municipal economic development professional, I again acknowledge that the items to be sold are neither American and definitely not from a cute Main Street U.S.A. shop although I think that the “Main Street” name with design that evokes Main Street hometown shops would help sell things.
Imagine a logo with an old-fashioned trustworthy looking shopkeeper on a site with a name like “Main Street Mart,” “Main Street Shop” or “Main Street Market.”
I would sell stuff made in Hong Kong and mainland China at a modest profit and pay the vendors through WeChat and ship it through epackets, which, believe it or not, often allow you to ship as few as one item for free from China, although it does take about two weeks to receive.
Like I wrote, I have been doing my homework.
I Love Fridays
Like many hard-working Americans, I hate Mondays but I love Fridays.
There is a chain of stores that I hate called Tuesday Morning. I have browsed in one four or five times and have even purchased some items, but my overall impression of it is that it is largely comprised of the kind of items that failed to sell at a garage sale. It’s a bunch of crap, even more so than what I would want to sell online. But it does have a day of the week in its name.
TGIF is both an expression that millions of people, myself included, have uttered on Fridays at the workplace as well as a middling chain restaurant.
Both businesses do okay despite having a day of the week in its name. People shop at Tuesday Morning on Saturdays, just as people eat at TGIF on Wednesdays.
Since I do work full-time and may not actually have the hours and hours that running a successful online e-commerce business would take, I have contemplated a name with Friday in the name with the insinuation that deals are to be had every Friday. Perhaps I should use Saturday or Sunday, since the site would likely take more work later in the week in preparation for sales to peak on the day of the week in the name.
Sure, you could buy the stuff on a Wednesday morning at 3:30 a.m. while I am sleeping. After all, the entire point is to earn some money while I sleep. But instead of updating the goods for sale all seven days of the week, I could tweak it throughout the week in anticipation of “new deals” being made available on Fridays.
Of course, operating such a site would require me to take many Fridays off, which I am okay with, or otherwise have an iPad, laptop or “smart” phone to check on the site throughout the day if I do, in fact, use my favorite day of the week in the name.
I am okay with only selling a few things six days per week and then selling thousands of dollars worth of stuff on a Friday or over the weekend in a “today only” or “this weekend only” type of sale. Heck, my wife and daughter are shopping at Kohl’s as I write this with one of those 30% off coupons good for “a few days only.”
Everyone loves Trader Joe’s. Trader Vic’s is a restaurant/bar, whose website is down as of today.
“Trader Dan’s” has a nice ring to it but is taken. TraderSam’s, like the fictional retailer in the Disney Jungle Cruise area, is already taken by a wholesaler of tea products. The Trader name with my own real first name is available and may end up being the winner.
I am not yet ready to divulge my true identity, but creating an e-commerce site bearing my name would certainly do the trick. If it ultimately becomes as successful as it would in my dream scenario, I would not mind my name being associated with it in public. It would have to be, anyway, as I file documents registering the domain name and creating the LLC documents and accounts to handle the buying and selling of products.
The only thing that I do not like about the “Trader” handle is that it implies trading of some sort. True, Trader Joe’s, Trader Vic’s, Trader Dan’s and Trader Sam’s simply trade their wares for your currency. But I still wonder if a “Trader” website selling stuff made in Hong Kong, China and elsewhere throughout the world would make it in today’s hyper-competitive online retailing world.
Any thoughts or comments, including those of the usual “you’re an f—ing idiot” variety are welcome.