Q4, Sales and Disappointment

So in my last post, Redbubble and Etsy and Merch Waiting, Oh MY!, I discussed setting up new accounts on Redbubble and Etsy (yeah, duh) and getting your design groove on. I did this with gusto and uploaded a number of shirts to Redbubble in time for Q4.

Q4.

You’ve heard of Q4, right? If, like me, as soon as I applied for Merch by Amazon, I jumped straight on any Merch-related Facebook group I could find in order to learn, learn, learn. I suggest you do this. There is SUCH an abundance of information in these groups, and quite a lot of it you wouldn’t find out if you weren’t there.

There are also some hugely successful Merchers on Facebook, so jump in and get going. My favourite group is Merch – Girl Hustle, which is obviously geared towards women, but there are loads out there so go and check them out.

Anyway, I digress…. after delving into any Merch-related Facebook forum I could, I soon realized that Q4 is the time in a Mercher’s (or online seller’s) year that is basically what we’re all working towards.

Q4 (the last three months of the year, October – December, therefore the last quarter of the year) is THE period for shoppers and there are so many events and occasions in this time period, so you HAVE to make it count (think Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday/Cyber Monday and, of course, Christmas). Of course, I set out to make some designs in these areas and got them up to Redbubble and Etsy as soon as I could.

Another thing I read about on Facebook was ‘The Freeze’.  The Freeze (aka Throttling) is Amazon putting the breaks on sales of T Shirts so that it can keep up with the demand over these really popular holiday periods.  Merch achieves this throttle in a few ways:

  • It stops showing certain listings in search results, so you might find that your shirt can’t be found when you perform a search – super fun.
  • It puts a temporary hold on any new uploads of products to the platform, or even amending any current listing (so if you priced your items low then wanted to increase them for the holiday, heavy shopping period, you might find that you can’t increase them because of this hold, and are then leaving money on the table…), and
  • It stops showing certain popular sizes and colors of shirts to curtail sales the of those shirts.

Not something I had to worry about, because I wasn’t yet in the magical Merch Club! So disappointing. My three month count-down (this was the timeframe being bandied about on the forums as the general acceptance time to get into Merch) ended mid-November, and I STILL hadn’t received the hallowed email acceptance from Amazon. I had thought I’d be in at this point, and might be able to make a tiny bit of progress in Q4 2017, but that wasn’t to be.

So shall I give you a brief rundown of how I did in Q4? OK…

Redbubble:

I sold 23 shirts on Redbubble in Q4, making a total profit of $65.63.

Not such great shakes really, but that is profit, didn’t have to pay out anything there. Thanks Redbubble.

Etsy:

I sold 8 items on Etsy in Q4, making a profit of $76.41. However, this isn’t true profit. Etsy charge you $0.20 for each listing. I think I had a few hundred items up at this point, so that’s not insignificant.

Plus, in order to get your products out there and in the faces of the Etsy customer, you can engage in promoting your listings. I did this, and to be fair, it resulted in most of my orders. BUT, I paid around $92 for this advertising over the quarter and the profits just don’t make it worthwhile. It mounts up – big style, so if you engage in this activity, keep an eye on it.

So in short, I had started to make money, this is a plus. However, I didn’t manage to catch the Q4 rush and so it’s pretty dire going. A learning curve indeed, I think this Q4 – my first actual quarter in this Print On Demand business, actually taught me quite a few things about what to do and, importantly, what not to do.

Next time, I’ll discuss finally being accepted into Merch, and some other ideas I started to think about in relation to creating some more streams of income.

Until then, Adios x

 

Redbubble and Etsy and Merch Waiting, Oh MY!

First, apologies. Been sick and away from all the different things I’m doing Merch/blog related. But I’m back now and ready to continue. Hope you are too! This post will be about how I started my shirt selling journey on Redbubble and Etsy while waiting for Merch!

So, back when I applied for Merch, August 2017, you knew you were in for a wait and a half. If you did your research, you found that most people advised learning what you can about design and the ins and outs of Merch during this wait period so you can hit the ground running when you DO get accepted. When I applied, I was expecting a three month wait period (this was the ‘norm-ish’ from what I found on Facebook forums). I started a countdown calendar. Yes. I actually did this. Sad.

The other thing most people advise is to get your designs on other Print On Demand platforms. I got straight to it all.

Redbubble and Etsy

Redbubble is a platform much like Merch by Amazon. 1) Upload a design to the website. 2) Set your pricing structure/percentage of royalties. 3) When it sells, they give you your share of the profits. There is no initial outlay – like Merch – WINNER! Another win with Redbubble is the amount of different products you can get your design onto. SO many! I loved this and got cracking, immediately putting my designs on as much as possible.

My first sale came on September 30th – a Donald Trump shirt of all things. Made my month!! I believe the royalty was around $3!

Soon after discovering Redbubble, I found Etsy and its integration with Printful, the Print On Demand company. Etsy is a marketplace which traditionally has been for handmade item and cute niche trinkety type things. A completely different customer to Amazon and Redbubble – usually looking for great quality and happy to pay a premium for it.

With the new integration with Printful, I could upload my designs on an array of their products (much like Redbubble), and then they would be ported across to my new Etsy shop! Bonza!

This in actual fact is a bit of a faff and not at all as easy as Redbubble. Having to make sure the back end things in Printful work with the front end things in Etsy is sometimes a fine art. You do get used to it after a few uploads, but things can go astray.

The other thing about the Etsy/Printful integration is that you have to pay up front. Boo. You receive an order which gets pushed from Etsy to Printful. Etsy receive money from purchaser and holds it (yeah, thanks). Printful receive the order and charge you to print it (you need to have a balance with Printful, or a credit card listed). After a few days, Etsy releases the money to you, which is more than the price you paid to Printful.

This is all automated (if you managed to set it up properly) so you rarely have to do anything. Maybe a customer wants to put a gift note in with their item, in which case you DO need to amend the order on the Printful side, or they may want a customised item, and the same goes – you need to change things on the Printful side.

However……the Etsy market is great and the profits can be too. I think the usual royalty on a Redbubble/Merch item is roughly $5. On Etsy you can make $11-13+ depending on what it is you’re selling.

Worth a punt, for sure. And don’t forget all the other PODs out there that you can try.

Design

When I first started my Redbubble and Etsy journey (whilst waiting for the God that is Amazon to bequeath me a Merch account), I used an iPad app called Over to make my first designs (link on Resources page). It is SUPER easy to use and has a lot of elements already on board such as pictures and fonts so you don’t have to go on the hunt for these. You can, of course, upload your own design elements and fonts to Over, which makes it even better, but you don’t have to when you start.

After becoming acquainted with Over and getting a bit more design experience and confidence under my belt, I moved over to Photoshop, which is fabulous and has so much scope to design exactly what you want.

For both Over and Photoshop, you will find an abundance of free training on YouTube to help you with your projects.

Anyway – I strongly urge you all, if you haven’t already, to get on with applying for your Merch account and get on other PODs asap.

Adios x

 

Podcasts lead me in the right direction

Podcasts

Podcasts. I just love them, don’t you? I listen to them all the time, on all subjects. Some of my favourites are Hello Internet, Cortex, The CultCast, Side Hustle School (by fab author Chris Guillebeau – check out links to his books on the Resources page), Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations, StartUp Podcast, Beautiful Anonymous, Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know, The Tim Ferriss Show (his books on my Resources page too – so good), Surprisingly Awesome… oh my goodness, I could go on and on. But I won’t x

Seriously though, if you haven’t branched out into the wonderful world of podcasts, do it now. I use Overcast to listen to mine, but likely your phone already has an app for playing these things!

Anyway – I digress…

Merch Entrepreneur

On my regular hunt for a new podcast to lsiten to, looking for a passive income listen, no doubt, I came across the Merch Entrepreneur podcast by Elaine Heney. Now, I was very excited to see this podcast as I had no idea there would be something to listen to about Merch By Amazon, so I readily downloaded the first episode.

Then I read the title of the first episode: “How I made $6754 with Merch by Amazon in one month“. Hooked in, right there.

Elaine is a digital nomad (someone who can do their job from anywhere with an internet connection). She started out working in the corporate world but decided that wasn’t for her and went out into the big wide internet world to see if she could earn her money in other ways.

Merch by Amazon is only one of the things Elaine does as a digital nomad, but she made nearly $7k in her 7th month on the platform, so something for us all to strive for! Give her podcast a listen – from the beginning – it really is very enlightening.

And it’s what made me get straight over to Amazon and sign up for Merch.

I signed up on August 17th, and then I made myself a little calendar to check off (I really did… saddo). I’d heard that it took 3-ish months to get approved so I was counting down the days. I also encouraged a couple of people close to me to apply. I just knew it was going to be good.

Research

While I was waiting, I wanted to learn as much about Merch as possible and how to go about things when I did get approved. I scoured the internet for anything I could find on this subject and joined lots of Facebook groups.

Check out the Resources page for my favourites, and I urge you to join as many as you can handle as they are a huge source of real-time information that you won’t get anywhere else.

Next time, I’ll take you through the other Print On Demand sites I joined while waiting for Merch, and how I started to make sales on the designs that I had created. Yes, ME!

Adios x

T-Shirt Design? Hmmm… Not For Me.

I first found out about Merch by Amazon early in 2017. I was in one of my ‘searching for ways to make passive income’ phases, looking for alternative income streams and came across this free article: “How To Sell More Shirts” (or the first three chapters of his e-book of the same subject) from a guy called Michael Essek who is, by all accounts, one of the people smashing it in the t-shirt / print on demand business. I bookmarked his stuff for later (as it turned out, much later) and carried on my mission.

Merch By Amazon

So at this point, I’m going to give you a small outline of what exactly Merch By Amazon is.

We’re all familiar with the brilliantness (it’s a word! Hehe) that is Amazon, right?  I remember when Amazon was an online bookstore only. Now look! Whatever products you want, usually delivered quicker than you can say “send it now please”, and more often than not cheaper than anywhere else. I LOVE Amazon! Well, not only have they branched out into more areas than we probably realise, but they are now in the business of selling t-shirts.

You might have seen some fun shirts on Amazon.com and even purchased one or two of them. Maybe you didn’t realise that those t-shirts you saw and bought were designed by people like you and me. Yup. You got that right. Joe Public designs a LOT of the t-shirt products you see on Amazon.com and they do it through the program called Merch by Amazon.

I will go into more detail about the ins and outs of Merch in a later post. Keep an eye out!

So where was I? Oh yes, I had discovered Michael Essek and read his free chapters on how to sell more shirts, had a browse through his website and carried on doing some research on the matter. A million bookmarks and a lot of reading later, I promptly thought “I can’t design shirts – what am I even thinking”, filed it all away under “Side Hustle – Possible” and moved on.  I had no graphic design experience and just thought that opportunity was for other people. Who would by a shirt I had designed? Precisely no-one.

In the lead up to summer 2017 I carried on looking for things I could do in addition to the day job which might one day make my work at home dreams come true. I stumbled upon many, many websites offering the usual click-bait drenched titles like “22 Ways To Make Money In Your Sleep” and “47 Businesses You Can Start Now For Free” and they never offered me anything I could do. Yes, if I wanted to be a maths tutor or freelance consultant, great. If not, well…. none of those sites ever offered me anything I could do.

And that is when I put a pin in it.

I had a lovely summer, I got on with my demanding job, and I enjoyed my family.

Next time: how I re-discovered Merch by Amazon,  other print on demand services and how I think this opportunity has massive potential to actually change lives (you know what, I know that it has already)

Bye for now x,

(Side Note: I have since discovered a few really good articles of this nature which I would have liked to have found when I was searching last year. I’ll link to some of them in the Resources page.)

Passive Income And My Quest To Find It – Introduction

Hello. This is me.

Friends – this blog is about me and my search for an alternative way from the usual grind to earn a living – preferably passive income. I commute for an hour and a half each way to work and I want to cut that shizzle out. Pre-children, the travelling was not such a big deal but now they are here (and have been for some time), the yearning to be at home more is killer.

I have a job with LONG hours, with great pay and bonuses which enable us to do so much. However, it’s not family-friendly in any way, shape or form.

It’s something we work around as a family and are used to it, however, more and more over the last year or so I’ve realize I want to change things up. I’m looking at ways to work from home, make passive income and just see what is out there. (Isn’t ‘passive Income’ the dream for everyone? Yeah, I’m aware that this is a pipe dream…. such a lot of hard work needs to be done before ANYTHING becomes passive – I’m down with that).

And here we are.

Still working a full-time (and then some) job, dreaming of the day I can work from a laptop at home (or on a beach, am I right?), raking in thousands from all different little ventures!

Ha. I’m not so naive as to think this is going to happen, or if it even gets half way there, that it’s going to happen any time soon. I AM going to give it a good shot though, and I want YOU to come with me. I read many blogs on passive income, how to make money doing this and that – never anything I consider ‘me’ to be honest (I’m not a tutor, I don’t teach courses, there IS a book in me, but not sure of the subject), or am brave enough to try (trading…me? Nah.), but I never found one that was live, so to speak, and took me on the journey with the writer.

What I’m going to bring you.

This blog is going to be my warts and all story/journey of what I do and how I do it and at the end of each month I’m going to let you know what cold, hard cash I make doing it! Sound good? Great. If you fancy it, sign up here with your email address and I’ll be in touch when I put up a new post.

Feel free to join me in the quest for financial freedom, peeps. I’d love to have you along for the ride. Absolutely send me a message or comment below with any questions and I’ll try to answer in a reasonable amount of time (remember the full-time job and family, folks :0) xx)

One final note: In the interests of absolute clarity, sometimes there may be some links in this blog that are affiliate links to products I like, use and recommend. This means that if you click on the link and it takes you to a product that you like and buy, I might get a commission from the Vendor. It doesn’t change the price you pay for the product – honest. Also, some links won’t be affiliate links, but I’ll tell you which ones are. ;0)