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How I made $40k within Shopify's Trial Period

Discussion in 'Success Stories and Bragging' started by doesitmakesound, Mar 20, 2015.

  1. doesitmakesound

    doesitmakesound Affiliate affiliate

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    Hi all,

    I have just begun researching into expanding my company's SEO efforts and affiliate sales program. I signed up for ShareASale if anyone is interested in growing with us. We went live on there a day ago and have 50 affiliates already signed up and sales. I also want to start off my membership here with a blog I wrote after we launched.

    After 8 months, we have now surpassed $500k in sales to nearly 100 countries and over 12,000 customers. I am very interested to learn more from you all and hope my experiences help you as well. The post below is from ~5 months ago when this had just launched. Enjoy!

    -------- How I made $40k within Shopify's Trial Period --------

    Twelve hours ago, an email from Shopify notified me my trial period was expiring. It was an automated email usually of little significance, but it inspired me to write this post and reflect on how far we've come, the mistakes made, and lessons learned in a little over a month. For the past two months I have almost entirely gone by the pseudonym "anon" due to a series of internet posts that resulted in 259,594 unique visitors, 549,542 page views, $40,159 in revenue. Image from Shopify:

    [​IMG]

    Shirtwascash is an anything goes user-submitted shirt design platform. People submit their creations to our subverse at voat.co/v/shirtwascash, those go into a survey, people vote on which shirts they want and give feedback, then we do licensing / design work, and release the new designs on our website. Our first survey was completed 2,200 times - so how'd I do it?

    After my previous startups in bitcoin, online ticketing, and a social network for festival goers, I made sure to test demand first and thoroughly. Last May I saw this post (very NSFW) "4chan designs some shirts" and was laughing my ass off. The pants shirt in particular was funny to me and I wanted it. Turns out a lot of other people did too. I created the first survey that night and posted it: "4chan designs some shirts [UPDATE]". ~1,000 filled the survey from that so I found a local manufacturer.

    [​IMG]

    A mistake I thankfully skipped:

    If you need your product manufactured, I highly recommend finding someone local. Yes, we could make more money offshore but being hands on with quality and maintaining a great relation has been a winning combination. I would have been completely fucked if I had started anywhere else due to quality control, design adjustments/changes, etc. We've already had repeat customers and that is extremely important to me.

    Here's one of my first mistakes: I recruited a technical partner for a retail shop and gave away some equity. My platform-building startup history made me overthink the technology behind this. I wanted it to be similar to imgur in style so it was familiar and to accept bitcoin / dogecoin from the start. I recruited my roommate, who is aphenomenal developer (check out Launchkey), but turned out to be unnecessary. I never had any experience with Shopify until now, but it is incredible.

    We launched with this beautifully simple website and made ~$10k in the first two weeks. I decided to switch to Shopify at that point since my roommate was busy and we needed a lot of changes to move forward. If you make a Shopity or similar marketplace provider, I highly suggest doing all of the setup and design work yourself. It's one of the easiest things to overcome / learn and if you'd rather give someone money to do it - then you're probably going to fail.

    My encounter with Social Media "Influencers" aka popular internet kids

    Have you ever wondered what type of results a tweet from someone with 334k followers will get you? So did I. My friends host parties called "The Influential House" that connects sponsors with social media influencers and hot girls. We decided to go for the $5k spot while still attending the Electric Daisy Carnival. The party itself #TINHouse trended #1 on twitter (although I have my doubts on the methods used to make that happen), but the kids didn't show us any love or even much respect. Some demanded free stuff from us, others stole from eachother, several stood around expensive rental cars out front flexing their muscles, and generally glamorized a lifestyle of abundance for having such twitter handles as "Bad Advice Dog". Photos from #TINHouse.

    We were told Shirtwascash received 10 million impressions from who knows where which resulted in: ZERO SALES. Not only that, but our focus on it actually lowered total visitors on our website over the three-day period. I still want to spend money on marketing that has a positive ROI but I haven't seen it yet. Organic and honest communication with your direct customers is the way to go. If that doesn't exist, then maybe you have the wrong product or market.

    After that weekend of babysitting spoiled children, I doubt I'll be doing anything like that again. I love our customers, they call me a faggot and send me really funny & supportive emails. I decided I'll focus on just getting more people like that.

    My second biggest mistake was underestimating international shipping. When we launched the initial website, orders were pouring in from all around the world. I had to very quickly figure out how to organize and ship abroad and that was difficult, until I found Shipstation. Now that we have Shopify + Shipstation in place, they sync with eachother. Our process went from data mining & excel sheets with the old site to clicking a button to print a prepaid label. I highly recommend this combination if you sell product online.

    [​IMG]
    Ever since that sponsorship weekend, I have just continued to engage users on various forums online and spread the idea of "4chan designs some shirts". I track where others share our link to discuss things like "would you wear these" and inject myself into the discussion w/ an introduction and carefully answer questions. Our biggest moment so far was from a reddit post in /r/internetisbeautiful. We've been linked or directly related to 3reddit posts that have hit the front page. Reddit makes up a significant amount of our traffic, but also has the lowest conversion rate.

    Since reddit changed their default pages from 25 to 50, there is a lot more opportunity to get your startup exposure. The posts that hit front page from /r/4chan only are viewed by people in /r/all (most users view /r/front). /r/internetisbeautiful is a new default sub and popular posts go straight up the reddit viewership chain.

    Last tip: If you ship anything, go to USPS's website and order shipping supplies for free!

    Best,
    anon
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2015
    edtorrez, itskai, manishshah and 2 others like this.
  2. hypefree

    hypefree Affiliate affiliate

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    Congrats. Your shirt designs are fantastic. I wonder if TeeSpring will copy your format.
     
  3. doesitmakesound

    doesitmakesound Affiliate affiliate

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    Thanks - they probably won't at least for the time being. The reason is cost. This printing method is both more expensive, higher quality, and takes serious skill to get the garments up to standard. It would be a rather large project for them and they'd need to displace their current profit model.

    That said, I don't see why not in the future. We'll still have a lot of differentiating factors.
     
  4. wilhb81

    wilhb81 Affiliate affiliate

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    Hi Anon,

    It's very inspiring to see such a successful online T-shirts venture story, especially with Shopify.

    I was wondering, is it okay for you to PM me your website's link? Currently, I'm looking for a T-shirts printing supplier and maybe you can be a good selection for me here :)

    PS: I will have a further chat with you in Skype about the possible co-operation venture, if you're interested on it...
     
  5. Nox007CPA

    Nox007CPA Nox Singh Affiliate Manager affiliate

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    Woaah, those designs are amazing!
     
  6. Effect

    Effect Affiliate affiliate

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    Awesome guide and nice tee's man well done
     
  7. manishshah

    manishshah Affiliate affiliate

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  8. church

    church Affiliate affiliate

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    Great read thank you
     
  9. SREE

    SREE Affiliate affiliate

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    Great info. Thanks.
     

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