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

 

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.)