November proved to be very busy for me indeed.
Whenever you start a new venture you always lose money and time. It’s just how it is. That’s why most new ventures fail within the first 5 years. On the flip side, if you can make it past the 5th year mark then it’s a statistically higher rate of success for you.
I have a long way to go but my other business is going well so far. We continue to crank out lots of tee shirt designs for a hungry group of tee shirt entrepreneurs like myself.
The way I have my business set up currently is that, any “unsold” shirt designs go right into my other sales channels (Amazon Merch, Teepublic, etc) so they don’t go to waste from an opportunity perspective and a monetary perspective.
You could argue that these were the “leftovers” and they might not sell well for me but it’s all about perspective. Someone’s sh*t is another man’s gold. Just because a few people passed on the design doesn’t mean it wont go viral or that customers wont want to purchase it.
Besides, I’ve already bought the design from the designers so it costs me nothing to throw it up on my sites. I’ll start showing off designs that people passed on soon that sell. Buyers remorse can be had on deals passed up. 🙂
I setup my Shopify store
So one of the things I wanted to do was get my Shopify store set up in November. I came up with what I think is a great name and urban/trendy look for the overall brand and I’ll be adding all my designs there for the foreseeable future.
My main concern is that my designs vary in theme, color, etc so not all the designs will really fit the brand or website so customers could be potentially confused. This is a risky “wide” approach rather than a “deep” niche approach. The “leftover” over designs from MerchCandy.com are different niches every week so I might have to hold some back from the Shopify store and just post to my TeePublic store.
If you would like to see the Shopify store than you can check it out here.
I’ll be working on better optimization of the website as the months go on but for now it’s ready to go and sales can be made. In the near future I plan on buying this theme and using it to build out the site even more. Pre-built themes seem to be the best way to go. I wouldn’t pay $500+ to have someone build it out unless your doing $5K a month in sales (hint hint goals)
Shopify Apps I added
Shopify is all all-a-cart basically. You pick a theme (or buy one) and set up your basic store. But then, in order to really maximize your chances to make sales you need to have the best apps running inside your store to streamline and boost your profitability and sales. So below is a list of Shopify apps I installed and why. I would love to know what you’ve installed on your website and why so please comment below if possible.
- Sweet Tooth Loyalty Program (killer app that allows you to give discounts for customer milestones and reward for social sharing)
- Yotpo Reviews (review plugin that allows customers to leave reviews for your products)
- Retargeting on Autopilot by Shoelace (haven’t set this up yet but it basically automatically retargets customers who visit your website with ads on Instagram, excited to get this going and will report results as soon as I can)
Fulfillment for the tee shirts are being handled by Printful and on average I should make around $8-$13 a shirt for everyone sold. Printful makes it super easy to do POD (print on demand) and they are an integration partner with Shopify. I read a great article over at Michael Essek’s blog about the differences of the big 3 POD fulfillment sites. I recommend his blog to anyone looking to get started in tee shirts.
I set up my Facebook fan page
This was a real simple one to do and I just had to ask my designer to create some social media versions of my logo so I could put them up on the page to brand it. Here is a decent article from Shopify on how to leverage your fan page. You want to be posting your new tee shirts to your Facebook page every time you upload them so fans can see a constant stream of your products. This also helps round out the “legitimacy” of your brand as well. Every major brand has a Facebook page.
Notice how I put some text underneath my logo. I want people on Facebook (potential customers) to know that we sell tee shirts, accessories and stuff for the home as well. This is part of “building the brand” …but honestly…I’m not even sure what our brand represents yet. Why don’t you leave a comment below and tell me what you think it means or what resonates with you as you look at the logo? Thanks! 🙂
I set up my Instagram page
This was really fun to set up and I have a ton of experience working with Instagram from Food Revolt. I’ve heard from other successful sellers that Instagram is perfect for selling tee shirts so I’m really excited to get this account going strong.
Again, I had my designer make my logo in a circle format to conform to Instagram’s circle requirement and I’m really please with the way it looks.
Here a few things to keep in mind when you’re building out your Instagram profile.
- Use emojis because everyone is in love with them and they are only getting more popular as time goes on. The represent a really cool and visual way to tell your “brand story” without running out of room for words on the bio section.
- Use a free tracking link service like Bitly for your website so you can collect data and track how many people are actually coming to your website from your Instagram. Be sure to use the name of your brand in the actual link so it doesn’t seem spammy.
- Alternate your product photos with complimentary photos that speak to your brand lifestyle. This helps break up the page so it doesn’t look like a dump zone for products your pushing.
- Use a program like Instagress to gain followers for you while you sleep. The more followers you have the more real and popular you seem to the viewer and potential customer.
I set up my free RedBubble account
I set up my free account over at RedBubble because they are a huge UK website for selling merch just like a TeePublic. This will be great for European exposure to my designs and it’s free so it would be silly not to post shirts there too. So in the next day or two, my Virtual Assistant (get your cheap virtual assistant here) will be taking the 50 designs or so from my TeePublic account and putting them on the RedBubble website.
Sales Numbers & Ratios
So since this is essentially my first month of sales and I spent most of the month getting all the structure set up around the business I expected the sales to be real low.
I also expected to make some money though, and I already knew that this was going to be a “long tail” game.
Meaning, it will take time to build my portfolio of designs and each month I add more designs their should be a compounding effect of sales.
Remember, the goal is to build a passive income of $5,000 a month. Stay with me, we’ll do it together.
One thing I’m keeping an eye on is the ratio of designs to sales. I want to be as strategic and purposeful about my approach so in future updates I will be including more robust reports and tracking the ratios. I’m decent at Excel charts but not a master so I’ll hire someone from Fiverr to help me with that. Remember, outsource when you can.
If we look at my TeePublic first month the math goes something like this:
4 tee shirt sales / 47 designs = 0.08%
November 2016 proved to be a very busy month for me like I said at the beginning of the post. I couldn’t have gotten it all done unless I had help from a VA, so I recommend that to anyone. They are really a lot cheaper than everyone thinks. For next month my goals are the following:
- Load more shirts into all platforms, including Amazon (currently at intro level of 25 shirt design slots)
- Refine my Shopify store to maximize every visit to the store (current homepage is a terrible layout)
- Start to load and sell mugs on Amazon and Etsy via a drop shipping method (I know, it’s not tee shirts but it’s in the “merch” category and they make money)
If you liked anything I had to say in this post or just want to say hello, please leave a comment below. I love hearing from everyone