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3 Mistakes I made with Facebook Ads and 5 Lessons Learned

Friday I produced my very first Facebook ad. I imagined I would easily make several hundred dollars in 5 days. I was so excited until I cancelled the ad Saturday afternoon. My ad did not produce the desired several hundred dollars and was a failure. Here is what I learned from creating my very first Facebook ad.

What was my first Facebook Ad

I recently purchased several courses on making money with Facebook Ads. I went through them very quickly because I wanted to get something up and running before the end of the week. The courses covered making money with fan pages, getting likes to pages, winning JV contests and promoting products. All of this sounds great but none of it was how I wanted to start my very first Facebook Ad. There was on section on selling t-shirts. Bingo. That was going to be my first ad.

The courses covered creating a Facebook fan group to promote a topic like Golden Retriever Dogs. Once you have a bazillion people that have liked you group, you create a t-shirt about Golden Retrievers and sell it to the page. Most of the bazillion people buy t-shirt and you make some serious money for your effort.

I decided to start with something that I know very well and that is Georgia Football. Blame my love of Georgia football on both of my parents who graduated from the University of Georgia. Actually my mother graduated from Georgia 2 years after I graduated from University. Not many people get to go to their mother’s college graduation like I did. Actually I didn’t graduate from University of Georgia so I am pretty sure I have been written out of both of my parent’s wills for this oversight.

Anyway (up until Saturday) Georgia was having an outstanding football season. We were the only team in the country that had played 5 teams ranked in the top 10 in the nation in our first 6 games. Most of the games were thrillers winning in the last 2 minutes against LSU, winning late in 4th quarter against South Carolina, winning in overtime against Tennessee. Our quarterback Aaron Murray was putting up some incredible numbers and Georgia was ranked #4 in the nation for Offense. My first t-shirt design was going to be Aaron Murray for Heisman.

Lesson #1: Overcoming Your Weakness

Even though my mother was the director of the best art gallery in Atlanta and has had photographs on the cover of many national magazines and has won about ever interior design contest she has ever entered, the genes for her right brain artistic skills were never passed down to me. So I decided to overcome my weakness and hire someone to create a t-shirt design for me.

I went to and posted a job looking for someone to design a t-shirt that would say Murray for Heisman on the front and Murray and the number 11 on the back. I ran a short job posting that would last only 3 days. Like i said I was eager to get my first ad up so I ran the shortest possible job posting you can run on eLance.

The job posting required the winner to produce 2 proofs for the design. I would pick one and then they would be required to do up to 3 revisions based on my feedback. The final files I would received would be a vector EPS file and the original Adobe Illustrator file before text is converted to paths.

I got 23 people to submit proposals for my job posting. The lowest proposal was for $20 and the highest proposal was for $280. I decided to hire 3 contractors and let all 3 design the t-shirt. I got 6 proofs. I selected one from each of the 3 contractors and gave them revisions. The all sent the revised imaged back to me. None of them required a second revision and I accepted their work. I got the request EPS and AI files from all 3. Here is the winning design.







Lesson #2: Give Yourself Options

When I posted my job on elance I could very easily have just picked one contractor for the job. I decided not to do this because what if I picked the absolute worst designer out of everyone that submitted a proposal? I didn’t want to end up with only one choice of designs.

Instead I picked 3 designers with a good portfolio and were on the lower end of the price range. I selected proposals at $20, $50 and $60. The winners were from Pakistan, Canada and US. The Pakistan designer was $50 but turned out to be the absolute worst designer. The Canadian designer was $20 and did it low to get my business but any future designs would be $50. He turned design around in less than 6 hours after awarding job and requesting revision. The American was $60 always completed work the day after I requested it.

From the 3 I liked the work from the Canadian the best and used their design. I loved the super fast turnaround time. The American was 2nd and can use her in the future. I would never use the Pakistani designer again. So lesson learned – give yourself options.

Failure #1: Wrong Ad Type

There are 2 types of Facebook ads – right side ads and newsfeed ads. Newsfeed ads require you to send the person who clicked on your ad to a Facebook fan page. A right page ad will allow you to send traffic to a Facebook page or to a site outside of Facebook. Well since I didn’t have a Facebook fan page promoting Aaron Murray for Heisman then newsfeed ads were not an option for me. So my first Facebook Ad was a right side page ad.

I filled out my form for a Facebook Ad and submitted it. It was approved in about 5 hours. I budgeted $20/day for 4 days. Maximum amount I would spend would be $80. I could afford to lose this amount in learning about Facebook Ads. Once my ad was approved I started it running.

Lesson #3: People are Willing to Help You Out

As soon as I started to run the ad last Friday, I started to get people posting on my wall where they saw my ad. One of them was Mark Thompson who is a very successful Internet Marketer. He mentioned he was living in Europe and saw my ad. This was not a good thing because my t-shirt was designed for people living in the US. Even though this was my first Facebook Ad, people were willing to give me constructive Feedback on what I was doing wrong.

Later I got feedback from 2 other people on my ad. The last feedback I received was showing me exactly what I was doing wrong. He said I should first create a fan page, get people to like it and then sale the t-shirt on the fan page. Shazam all the parts of the training that I glossed over about creating a fan page and getting likes now made sense. Thanks to help from total strangers I knew exactly what I was doing wrong.

Mistake #2: Wrong Target Audience

When I created my Facebook ad I created a right side of page ad. That was because it allowed me to send clicks to which is where I was selling the t-shirt. When creating the ad you can select target keywords to narrow your potential target audience that will see your ads. You MUST spend time on getting this part right.

As I mentioned before people in Europe and Fiji were seeing my ad. This was a waste of money spent on the ad because people who could never have purchased the t-shirt were seeing my ad.

What I should have done was to limit the ad to only people living in the United States and that like Georgia football. That is a much narrow and laser targeted audience. Instead when I ran my ad my initial selection had the potential audience of around 1.5 million people.  Make sure you ad is focused directly on people that would be interested in what your are selling and would be potential buyers.

Mistake #3: Take Your Time

When I started working on my first Facebook Ad I set a goal to have it up and running in one week. I spent mornings before work and evenings after work working through the training courses that I had purchased. I glossed over the videos on topics that I wasn’t interested in since I knew I wanted to sell a t-shirt for my first ad.

Instead of placing a deadline to get my ad running I should have allowed adequate enough time to learn the topic before jumping into the deep end. If I had taken the time I probably would have learned how to tie together the fan page, likes and monetizing the fan page by selling t-shirts.

My goal this week is to go back through the training and pay attention to every video and every chapter in the book. Then capitalize on what I learn and run my second Facebook Ad.

Lesson #4: Make sure people will buy what you are selling

There is nothing better to learn about sales except to sale what people are willing to buy. I got caught up in the amazing success Georgia was having in the football season. Like 85,000 of my closest friends I believed this was the year Georgia was going to win the national championship. And I wanted to capitalize on that belief.

Some fans believe that Aaron Murray the quarterback could not win the big games. I always hated those fans and hated it even more when they would boo the team when losing. I believe my team will win every game every year and I would never boo my team.

This year Murray in his Senior season was winning the big games. Not only was he winning the big games he was winning them by driving the team to score in the last minute of the game to win. That is a champion. A champion that was playing like a Heisman.

I wanted to capitalize on his winning games by promoting a t-shirt that says Murray for Heisman. Well the lesson learned here was that I started my campaign on Friday and the next day Georgia lost the football game. With 2 loses there is no way that Murray would win the Heisman now. So here I am trying to sell something that nobody will buy.

Lesson #5: Be Willing to Lose Your Investment

Many people like myself dream of making a bazillion dollars when they purchase a new training course. I figured I could easily make several hundred dollars in selling my first t-shirt. Well I never got off the ground.

I had an initial investment of up to $80 that I budgeted for my Facebook Ad. Luckily I made my audience so big when completing my ad that I actually never was charged a penny for anyone clicking on my ad. So I did not lose my $80.

The only money I am out was the $130 I spent on hiring my 3 graphic designers. I can afford to lose this money because it allowed me to find 2 very talented graphic designers that I can turn to in the future. Plus I know my best designer can create 2 proof designs within 6 hours of me sending him the details of the t-shirt design. If he is busy then I have a very talented 2nd designer to turn to.

For future designs I will be paying $50 for my first choice of designer with a 6 hour turnaround or $60 for my 2nd choice designer with a 24 hour turnaround. For me this was money well spent. I am paying people to do something that I could never do myself. It was worth the money to find out the quality of work I can expect in the future and how long it will take.

Next Steps

I am going to spend this week going back through my Facebook Ads courses and pay attention to what I am learning. I think my second Facebook Ad will be something to promote Breast Cancer Awareness month which is this month. I want to strike on this topic while the iron is hot. I think my t-shirt design will say “Save Second Base”.

If any of you have been successful at selling t-shirts on with Facebook Ads, I would love to hear from you. Share with me your designs and how you sold them.


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by Jennifer Bland

I am an Entrepreneur. Mountain Climber. Neil Diamond fanatic. World traveler. MBA grad. Soon to be permanently retired from the ratrace. My website is a diary of strategies that I have used to make money online. I share what I have learned to help others.

29 comments… add one
  1. Hi Jennifer,

    Wow reading your report about FB Ads made me think I was reading my own experince and like you gloss over the important bits really and as they say dont give me the problem just the result he he.

    I too have learned that you need to have “Fan Pages” to sell the Tees and like you my first one has been a learning curve I did the right hand ad..cost $30 for 117 Clicks (CPC) of which I was impressed 🙂 but alas no buyers 🙁

    Personally I think it was the Teeshirt design,so its onwards and upwards and like you try and figure out how to crack this without all the fan page thing. So if I do I will be pleased to keep you posted.

    Thank you and Good Luck

    Sam 🙂 in the UK

    1. Sam,

      You will have to email me someday with a link to your t-shirt design and give me more details about your experience. I would like to share what you learned from your first ad. Maybe it will help me as I work toward my second ad.


  2. Jennifer,
    I love your website. I want it to be the best it can be so, when you are talking about sales, it is plural. Sell is singular. You want to sell t-shirts. Definition is: verb: to exchange something for money. Sale is a noun meaning the act of selling something. You are having a sale.

    I enjoy your website and would like to visit it occasionally. I don’t want to receive e-mail links and I don’t have a webpage.

    Go DAWGS!

    1. Sell and sales is not plural or singular. I’m sorry I wrote that and didn’t delete that part before I hit post!

    2. Christie,

      You are right about using the correct terminology to influence your thoughts. I will improve in this area and make a bazillion sales on my next Facebook ad!

      I am glad you enjoy my website. Be sure to tell all your friends, family and co-workers about my site.


  3. Hi Jennifer,

    I’m still trying to find the time to do stuff with Facebook but what I liked about this post is that you were willing to show the mistakes you made and the lessons gained from them, learning from others mistakes is much more valuable than their successes more often than not.

    I’m enjoying your blog by the way,

    All the best


    1. Steve,

      I am glad that you are enjoying my blog. You will have to email me once you find the time to work with Facebook ads and let me know how it worked out for you. My first go was not very good but look on the positive and know that I can only go up from here.


  4. If you really want to know about facebook ads, I suggest Amy Porterfield. She is the queen! Here is a link to her latest webinar about “How to Create Just ONE Facebook Marketing Campaign You Can Repeat Again & Again” I personally love her work. This webinar was amazing and I did buy the product she was promoting, but I think she closed it down and will not be re-opening for a few months.

    1. Jim,

      Thanks for the details about the Amy Poterfield course. I have heard about her. I will see if I can find it. If it has a blueprint that I can succeed with over and over and over again then this is a course I need to find.


  5. Eeek, I am sorry I just clicked on the link and it is no longer available, which stinks because it gave amazing ideas. Sorry again

    1. Jim,

      No worries. Amy and I kinda travel in the same circle as she use to work for Tony Robbins and I now have his right hand man as my life coach. I also crew as part of the Fire Team that builds the fire that people walk across at Tony Robbins’ UPW events. I just reached out to her on her website to see if I could get access to her course even thought it was not available now but will be next year. Hopefully I can get my hands on it. Thanks again for letting me know about a good course to get on Facebook Ads.


  6. What a coincidence, I started the same type of project this last week.

    I created a page pretty quickly just to do newfeed ads and was making about 3 sales a day with 0 likes on the page. I was also targetting breast awereness.

    Unfortunately, I got a cease and desist message (which was fake I found out) and stopped the campaign before it ended. So the shirts didn’t ship. If things kept going at the orginal pace I was calculated to earn $600 but instead lost about $50 (which isnt too bad for a test run).

    1. Tim,

      Let’s talk. You have to tell me about the cease and desist letter that you received and how you found out it was fake. I am about to follow in your footsteps and do the exact same thing to promote breast cancer awareness month.


  7. I love it

    1. Thanks Terrence,


  8. Hi jennifer,
    Great Article…..
    I also tried Teespring last week and spent 45$ without any sale
    I have few questions to ask?
    Is it necessary to have fan page for selling tee’s?
    Is their any chance of making sales if i increase my daily fb ads budget from 20$ to 40$?

    1. Neeraj,

      Did you spend the $45 on facbook ads? What type of return were you seeing on the target market you selected for your ad? What if you changed your target market. Remember you have to test, test and test some more to find the right mix.


  9. Hi. I have a few good ideas for tee spring however I have never really been a big user of Facebook. I do recognise though that this is probably one of the best marketing tools there is nowadays.
    Any tips or steer on where I can learn how to create FB ads from scratch please?



    1. Lisa,

      The best suggestion that I can share with you is to look at the ads you see when you login to Facebook. Which ones do you like and which ones do you not like. Then collect images of all the ads. Now you can use that information to make you own ad on Facebook.


  10. Hi Jennifer,
    I’m a seller for Teespring too. But recently Facebook don’t approve any ads of me (i run ads base on Audience of uids of people ‘s name). Do you have any solution?

    1. Monopoly,

      If I understand you correctly you were trying to run ads to audiences that were based on people’s name – like you were trying to run an ad to everyone named Jennifer for example. If that is what you were doing then that is against Facebook TOS and they are denying all of these ads. There is no solution for getting around breaking Facebook’s TOS except just don’t do it.


  11. Dear Jennifer,
    I am so glad that you are doing well and found your freedom.
    Just I wanted to share with you some interesting things about FB ads in case you do not know about this yet. If you Google “Facebook ad scam” , you will find out.
    I wish you all the best and and Happy Easter ! 🙂

    1. Sonia,

      Thanks for sharing. I seem to have gotten into Facebook Ads at a time when the value you get from Facebook Ads is starting to decline and not give the same ROI it provided a year ago. Anyway I shy away from the doom and gloom and am testing for myself to see how it fits.


  12. I constantly spent my half an hour to read this website’s posts everyday along with a mug
    of coffee.

    1. Deb,

      Thanks for reading.


  13. Hi Jen,

    Great article. I have a quick question for you… If you do build a fan page so you can do a newsfeed ad, how do you go about getting likes for your fan page?


    1. GT,

      I have not gotten into the habit of building likes for my fan pages. If it is a fan page that I want to run Facebook Offers then I will pay to get the 50 likes required for that. For the most part I have run most ads from a single fan page that has a very generic title.


  14. Your experience in this article is extremely common. I would love to know if your subsequent attempts, if any, bore fruit. Here’s why…

    I am a designer who decided I would try trowing my hat into the FB ads arena and sell, you guessed it, t-shirts. I have extensive experience with AdWords, and great success too. I just knew AdWords was wrong for selling shirts because of the lack of a photograph in the Google search page (I know, the content network, and that is where I am now). So, to FaceBook I went.

    I created a fan page, dedicated $1 per day to an ad promoting my page. I was quite successful with my strategy. The average cost per like is usually around $.70, I was getting a highly targeted like for around $.09. I also ran a series of ads promoting my t-shirt designs and sending people to my shirt designs. Here is what I have learned: my campaign not only had no chance, it has actually damaged my ability to market on my fan page.

    After digging in a little, I discovered that the majority of my ‘likes’ were nothing more than fakes from like farms in Asia. People are paid $1 per 1000 likes to boost other peoples page’s ‘engagement’. So, out of 154 likes from my promotion, about 120 were worthless. That is not just money wasted, but worse. Now, when I post on my page FaceBook will send my post out to a sample audience of my fans to gauge their interest and score my post’s value to send to the rest of my audience. Since the majority of my fans are fakes, I have very little chance to see my posts spread to my fan base. Therefore, my few legitimate fans will probably never see my posts. Lesson: Never buy FB ads to promote likes, allow them to grow organically.

    The second part of the equation: ‘Website Clicks’, ‘Website Conversions’ and ‘Impressions’: which ad type works best? Well, none actually. Website clicks, they are going to charge you each time someone likes your ad, shares you ad, comments on your ad or clicks to your website. So, they call it website clicks, however that is misleading. I bid a maximum of $.35 per website click, however, by the time they charges me for all the other crud I DID NOT purchase, my cost per website click was well over $1. OK, so Impressions… Well, when I was paying for website clicks I was getting roughly 1 click for every 1000 impressions. When I ran an ad for impressions my click rate dropped to around 1 every 10,000 impressions…. HUH? Why did the EXACT SAME AD get only 10% of the response? Well, I drilled down into my Google Analytics ( I am really schooled in those metrics ) and my website logs and found that the average time on site from my ‘Pay Per Click’ ad was 0.09 seconds per page…. That is not humanly possible. You reach your own conclusion there, mine is solidly cemented in my mind. But before I learned that lesson I had already ran a side campaign for ‘Per Website Conversion’ and had made my checkout page my conversion point. That way I at least knew the visitor got to my checkout page before I was charged… WRONG! FB served my ad 1100 times, I got ZERO clicks, ZERO conversions and they had charged me over 75% of my daily budget for all this fine work. 2 more lessons, well learned, mainly that pay per conversion is actually not pay per conversion

    Reach your own conclusions here. But as for me, I would rather start my grill with a burning $20 bill than send it to FaceBook. At least it would do some bit of work for me before it was gone.

    1. Rich,

      Everything is relative. What works for my audience and niche might not work for your niche. What you have to learn is that you MUST try something then evaluate whether or not it is effective. If it is not then you must decide if you must stop doing it or change and try something different. The absolute worst thing you can do is try something once, it not work and then quit. BTW I don’t run like ads to my facebook page.



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