Income Report October 2018
Welcome back everyone!
October was a decent month sales-wise and there’s been lots of experimenting in POD and change for me personally that I can’t wait to share with you. I hope that you’re starting to see your own POD stores kick up with some additional sales now that we’re in the middle of Q4.
I’m starting to get deeper into brand building, influencer marketing, and having to make some hard decisions about what path I follow next year. I’ll have to make a choice whether I want to double down on growing my main brand, or go more into the merchandising services side of POD, which I dig into later in this post.
For now, let’s get in to the lovely numbers, they never lie (but sometimes they are painful…), my October 2018 income report is below:
September 2018 Income Report
By Spencer Shewbridge | Merch Lifestyle
What to do with my Merch by Amazon Account?
- Excellent customer feedback (only 5 star ratings)
- Strong margins (over 50%)
- Fairly difficult to copycat due to design quality
- Access to customer data (emails + e-com analytics)
- Relatively simple to produce, multiple suppliers available globally
I think it’s about time to get out of the Merch game (sell my business while it’s good), focus those profits on expanding my premium brand, and expand my “advanced” e-commerce skillset (paid advertising, multi-channel selling, email marketing, social media marketing, etc).
This month my merchandising business took a big hit.
My flagship client decided to take merchandising into his own hands and left my influencer merchandising service. This one hurts because I invested quite a bit of time to get the service set up, and was actually paying out several hundred dollars a month in royalties (while earning several hundred as well). I thought that the “do nothing and get checks for it” selling point was going well, but when the barriers to entry in POD are relatively low, these things will happen.
It forced me to rethink whether Youtube-specific influencer merchandising is really the right path, given that I don’t really have a huge competitive advantage over the myriad of established players in that market. When YouTube starts cutting deals directly with POD companies like TeeSpring and integrating them into the platform, it might be time to switch gears.
I’m mulling over whether I want to expand into the business/corporate niche and offer a select portfolio of high quality embroidered products. I feel like there’s space to build a service around opening a “company store” for a business (both internal/external) and providing merchandising alongside drop-shipping items that can be given as gifts and welcome packages in the company. Landing corporate clients would be harder, but more consistent in terms of revenue from ongoing purchases. There would likely be some contractual obligations on both sides which would raise the table stakes regarding risk and profit. This path would take a re-vamping of my current site and offering, but I think there’s room to expand on the idea in 2019, and that it’s a more strategic and defensible approach to merchandising services.
Expanding into Shopify
I’m trying out Shopify for my premium brand e-commerce store.
Woocommerce has been good to me in the past, but there are a few solid reasons why I’m curious about switching over:
– Woocommerce restricts the ability of it’s platform and makes money via paid plugins. When you’re just testing out a store, it doesn’t make sense to spend $99+ to get premium features that should, frankly, just be features. I’d rather pay as I go and get the full suite instead of having a limited product.
– Shopify seems to have the first-mover advantage and critical mass of plugin developers, tutorials, and talent. It seems like everything POD starts with a Shopify integration, and expands from there….I want to be able to take advantage of the strong development community.
I’ve already launched my store and am in the process of loading it with hundreds of SKUs. In the future I’ll be working to pull customers that I find from sales channels and advertising directly to my website instead of to Etsy, Amazon, etc.
Trying New Marketing Strategies
I’m determined to find a marketing strategy that works for my premium brand.
I’m not interested in running Facebook ads or Google search ads for POD at the moment, I’m much more excited about trying an influencer marketing + direct mail approach. Let’s break both of those down:
Influencer marketing is where you find a person or group (typically on Instagram or YouTube) and offer them some form of compensation (a free product, payment, or both) for them to advertise your product. Right now I’m using a website called MuseFind to connect with people that will advertise my product in exchange for getting it for free. So far I’ve found a great influencer with about 30k followers to accept a product in exchange for a post highlighting the product and linking to my Etsy store. I then linked this with a special coupon code so that if/when people visit my store and complete a purchase, I’ll know that it was due to my spend on advertising. If it’s profitable, we’ll scale this thing up!
Direct Mail Marketing is something that everyone has experienced (on the receiving end) but it isn’t something everyone loves. When you get a coupon/flyer in the mail for some local service, that’s direct mail marketing. I was surprised to see that Etsy had linked up with a new service called Mailfold to integrate US customer addresses with a simple way to ship out custom postcards. I decided to give it a shot, and designed/sent out 6″ x 11″ postcards with a 20% off, Cyber Monday offer to 100+ previous customers, urging them to buy my premium products as gifts for this holiday season. I spent about $95 on the campaign, and again, I’ll be able to track this strategy’s profit based on a special coupon code that I included on the flyer. Only time will tell whether this will make my customers mad that I’m sending them mail spam, or whether it works!
Until next time,