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