How to Build a Box Subscription Site in 1 Day

Learning a new skill = bad

Building an ecommerce subscription store has been surprisingly difficult. For the past 2 weeks I’ve been working with a new framework Moltin, building a custom store. This affords me far more customization and scalability than any other method but it comes at a price–it’s slow, complex, and the fact that Moltin is an early stage startup doesn’t help. I’ve found over half a dozen bugs and missing documentation, further slowing down development.

I thought that Moltin was the right choice for my subscription store. What I realized was that learning a new skill is actually bad, at least at times. The flexibility that I desired actually made things more complex and frustrating. When you need to get something done, stick with what you know and don’t try to learn.

Solve the problem you have today

Moltin was also the wrong choice because I focused on “the future” instead of “the now”. If Guitar String Box blows up and needs to be really scalable, sure, Moltin is probably better than other solutions. But that solves a problem I may never have, and creates problems right now. Solve the problem that you have now when in the validation phase of building a business. You can deal with the future when you have paying customers, not before.

Rely on what you already know works

I scrapped my site and went back to the drawing board. What would be the fastest solution that would work? Both Squarespace and Shopify are good platforms for building stores, but neither natively support subscription products. The plugins that let you set up subscriptions suck because customers have to go through extra checkout steps. Not good.

WordPress comprises 26% of the internet. WooCommerce (biggest ecommerce plugin for WordPress) has over 2 million installs in the internet. Ok, that works. Let’s use that.

Leverage your strengths, don’t improve your weaknesses (when focused for speed)

WordPress also has the added benefit of being easy to work with and something I’ve spent a lot of time learning when just starting out. I spent 2 weeks trying to get Moltin to work and had a half finished product. 2 hours into WordPress setup I had my entire store built. Subscriptions, products, dynamic pricing, everything I wanted. By leveraging skills I already had I went from 2 weeks to 2 hours. I’ll never make that mistake again.

Tools Used

  • WordPress
  • WooCommerce
  • WooCommerce Subscriptions
  • Storefront WordPress Theme
  • Storefront WordPress Child Theme (for customizations)
  • Some basic customizations to the theme to make it not look crappy

When to Learn, When to Do

Learning new tools is fun but it doesn’t get you results fast. I didn’t start building Guitar String Box with my goal clearly in mind. If the primary goal is to learn, fine, then focus on that. But if your primary goal is to get build a business or get something done, then focus on that and use what you already know.

Don’t make work harder for yourself by learning new tools and building for scale. You can deal with that later when you need to. Right now you need to get users. Focus on complete, not perfect.

Next steps

The next steps for Guitar String Box are to design the website, setup secure checkout, and get the products! The Chinese factory that’s giving us the strings should be able to ship them in 2 weeks! I’ll post pics once I have samples in hand.

I’ve been working on 4 Weeks to Launch for 6 months. So far I have 2 failed products, 1 awaiting app store approvals, and 1 in progress. Once Guitar String Box is completed I’m going to teach myself the final piece of the puzzle, getting users! Here’s the

  • ✅ Idea selection
  • ✅ building the product
  • ✅ staying focused
  • ✅ optimizing for results/speed
  • ⬜️ getting users/revenue

Question: What do you need most help with? Idea selection, staying focused, building the product, or getting users/revenue. Let me know by email, reply/comment, or phone.