Hello hello awesome people,
So, I have been away from MyDreamStore for 2 months. Came back, started small, worked like crazy for a week to get the momentum back. Launched tons of new campaigns. Launched hundreds of ads.
And so happy to cross 1000 t-shirts a day Goal Yesterday.. Woohhooo!
T-Shirts Sold Yesterday – 1073
Profit Earned – Rs 2,70,144
Here’s the Strategy Used for One of the Campaigns
A Good Design – Large Buying Audience
Researched Highly Laser Targeted Interests for that audience
Single Post on Niche Based Facebook Page
Single PPE Ad targeted towards that audience with small budget of Rs 500
Waited for sales 48 Hours
Analyse the Report – Find out Who the Buying Audience is
Break down the Buying Audience by Age / Gender / Placement
Create multiple new Ad Sets in the same Campaign to buying audience
Wait for sales for 24 hours
Break down again – Age / Gender / Placement
More mini Ad Sets – Keep repeating
Now you know the exact age group / gender who buys for that niche
Note it down in a diary – Its worth Lacs – its your Secrete Code – your biggest Asset
All this from PPE only – Website Conversion and Retargeting Sales will be extra.. 🙂
And this is happening for 1 campaign.
Imagine if you have 5-10 more such campaigns running?
Is it really that hard to touch 1000 tees a day mark now?
And here is my Facebook Ads Manager screenshot for yesterday for this campaign
84 Tees Sold @ Rs 10 ad cost each (Epic ROI :p)
28 Tees Sold @ Rs 27 ad cost each
11 Tees Sold @ Rs 25 ad cost each
8 Tees Sold @ Rs 60 ad cost each
Now, next time someone tells you – it’s hard to maintain good ROI on MyDreamStore – Show them this screenshot. Its all about Strategy and Experiments.
Hope this post was helpful to you guys. Trust me its a strategy worth Lacs if you can implement this.
Happy Campaigning.. 🙂
Talk to you soon,
PS – I will be teaching all this in detail and how to implement it along with all my strategies in my upcoming Video Tutorial Course – T-Shirt Profit Academy
If you are interested in the same, please drop an email to email@example.com so that I will keep you informed.
Free Training: How to Quickly Start a T-Shirt Store
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Learn how to sell t-shirts without worrying about design, inventory or shipping.
Reserve your seat now
A few months ago, the team and I built an ecommerce business in three days. Staying true to one of our core values of “Do Things, Tell People”, we documented the entire process.
We figured, why not do it again? In fact, why not do it again with a totally different product, timeline, and budget?
So, that’s what I did.
For the past month or so, I have been building a business and documenting the entire process along the way. Everything from coming up with what to sell, to paid advertising, and more.
Today, I’m happy to share the results of that with you. I hope you find some of the details I’ve included in this case study to be valuable to your business, or to inspire you to start one.
As with the previous case study, this business is also being given away! Be sure to read to the bottom of the post to see how you can enter to win this business.
Enjoy, and good luck!
I believe one of the most important parts of building any business is the ideation stage and being able to move from an idea, to a product. It’s not an easy task to bridge that gap.
I’ve found that the best way to start generating ideas for a product is to sit down with someone and bounce ideas off one another. That’s exactly what Mark and I did.
We knew from the get go that we wanted to sell something that was relatively hands off, was easy to get up and running, and could be an exciting business that would be fun to work on for the foreseeable future.
I also wanted it to be something that required little to no upfront cost. I didn’t want to invest more than a few hundred dollars before being able to turn a profit. And, I wanted to be able to spend more money on marketing and less on inventory.
That way, if this turned out to be a complete failure, I wasn’t more than a few hundred bucks in the hole.
That left us with a few different options:
We decided on selling shirts. It’s an easy business model for anyone to wrap their head around, and with the help of services like Printful, getting started is incredibly simple.
But what kind of shirts did we want to sell? What sort of business was it going to be? Did we want to build a brand that would compete with the likes of Ralph Lauren, Nike, and more? Or did we want to build a t-shirt business that was more like Shelfies meets Threadless?
It would be hard for us to build a brand that competes on a large scale with little investment and time. How could we tell a story about a product that would be compelling enough for visitors to trust us, and to join us and our vision?
And, after gaining that trust – we’d still have to get them to take the jump and purchase a product.
It was clear that building a business around a brand story wasn’t the right route for us (at the time). But building a business quickly that has the potential to turn into a reputable brand was certainly something to work towards.
With this in mind, I got started by looking at what was selling already, what people were truly passionate about, and something that I was personally interested in.
It didn’t have to be anything too compelling – no, it just had to be a proven model that was approachable.
That’s when I started doing market research.
Market Research and Finding a Passionate Community
One thing that I’ve found is that if you want to sell something, it’s easier to piggyback on a community or trend that already exists, rather than try and build your own.
Yes, cultivating a flourishing and passionate community can be extremely rewarding – but we’re here to make something, and sell it quickly.
I didn’t have time to spend months creating content, marketing the content, and then selling a product to the community. That would come after the business model was proven.
I nailed down some criteria that I was looking for in a community. The community didn’t have to match all specific points, but the more that the net covered the better.
- Approachability—is it a “feel good” topic? Is it something someone would be proud to announce “I’m selling (market or product type) t-shirts”?
- Is it an “up and coming” market that will be here to stay?
- Is there high shareability? Is the topic “viral”? Is there the potential for a single design to go viral?
- Will the audience want to buy a shirt? Is the audience loyal, big enough?
- Are there influencers in the space? Instagram accounts? Can we send someone a shirt for $20 + pay them for a featured post and get a significant return?’
- Is there the potential for designs to be expanded to other mediums? Bags, Mugs, etc?
I decided to do a few Google searches for “most passionate communities” which, as you’d probably guess – didn’t turn out so well.
I switched gears and moved to one of the largest online communities – Reddit.
I knew there was a way to filter reddits based on activity, which is when I came across an incredible tool for doing this type of research.
Some of the different verticals I came across were the following:
Evergreen Verticals: Funny Shirts, Meme Shirts, Fitness, Movies, Gaming, Televisions
Others Based on Subscribers: Fishing, Food, GetMotivated, OldSchoolCool, Cats, MapPorn, Canada, MURICA, Beer, Baseball, AnimalsBeingBros, Mechanics (Justrollintotheshop), Gardening, PenmanshipPorn (lettering), BritishProblems, Zombies, Yoga, Baking, Sloths, UFOs, EDM, Gaymers, Dads
Others Based on Recent Activity: CrappyDesign, Minions, HipHopHeads, Bitcoin, MURICA, Canada, GetMotivated, Tattoos, Ecigs, Mechanics, Sneakers, Corgis, Nostalgia, Beards
After a search on Reddit for “what are you passionate about” there were a large number of threads made where hundreds, if not thousands of people shared what they were most passionate about.
Some of the things that were common across different threads were:
Even if you aren’t building an online business, I’d recommend this exercise. Take some time and look at what people are passionate about – maybe it will inspire you to start something.
These threads are full of insightful details about what people are passionate about and why. There’s certainly some other passionate communities that are just waiting to be sold to. See if there’s one that you can find that could be tapped into.
For instance, in this thread the most upvoted comment is someone who is passionate about….llamas:
So, I had that to work from.
Running seemed like an interesting market to tackle, but I don’t know much about running culture. Sure, I could have piggybacked off some of Nike’s success, but it wouldn’t feel genuine. Plus, there’s plenty of people doing it already.
Fitnesswas another one that piqued my interest, but, I’m not exactly a health nut (I like lots of pizza) so that was a dead end.
Maps were an interesting idea as well. What if I sold shirts of highly detailed city maps? You could literally “wear your city on your chest”. I thought that was really cool. The only problem with this was finding high quality, inexpensive maps that I could print on shirts. It just didn’t seem feasible.
That’s when pets and animals came into play. I know enough about pets. Our office at Shopify is home to quite a few dogs, and it was a market that could be dug into and branched off into different niches within the dog community.
What does that look like? Well, think about it for a second.
Let’s start with dogs. There's an incredible amount of different breeds. What about owners? What dogs are most popular within certain states? Who is it that takes care of a dog in a household? Does the average pitbull owner rescue their dog? Do more women own German Shepherds than men? What’s the average age of a dog owner and what does their household structure look like?
The potential for in depth targeting was endless.
With that in mind, I started getting excited. Dogs just seemed like a perfect fit. My mind started racing with potential designs, marketing avenues, and more.
It was time to dig deeper.
What’s Popular in the Dog Community?
Because there’s many different dog breeds, I knew it would be hard to try and find the most popular breed and just make shirts about that one breed – because chances are, someone’s already doing it. And, they’re probably doing a great job of it already.
I imagine that finding an incredibly loyal group of dog owners based on a specific breed could be very lucrative, but I wanted room to experiment.
I know that in our office there are two pugs, two french bulldogs, a labrador, and a few other breeds.
Next, I did a few Google searches for what dog breeds are most popular around the world, and in the United States specifically.
I chose to do a worldwide search, and a U.S. based search because I know the majority of people I will be marketing to will be based in the U.S.
Here are the results:
Top Dog Breeds in America
- Labrador Retriever
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Yorkshire Terrier
Okay, so that was a good starting point. But how could I be sure that these breeds had loyal, loving owners who were wanting to show their love and loyalty on their chest (literally)?
I decided to head to Reddit again. I reference Reddit quite a bit, as it’s an incredible resource for doing market research. Best of all, it’s free!
Top Dog Specific Subreddits
What does that mean to me?
First of all, it means there’s an established community I can sell to. If I wanted to, I had the option to market to these subreddits directly. It’s relatively inexpensive to advertise on a specific subreddit (about $10 or less), and I’d have loyal puppy owners at my fingertips. Plus, I had a great resource on Reddit advertising to work from.
Secondly, it means that if this community exists – others must too. There must be other places online, offline, and more, where puppy owners congregate to talk about all things dog related. It was just a matter of finding them.
That was more than enough validation for me to start going deeper. But what was next? I know these communities exist, but what are they buying? How can I put myself in their shoes to see the types of shirts a dog owner would buy?
My next step was to see what’s already selling, and try and work from there.
Finding out What’s Already Selling
With this business, I wasn’t looking to reinvent the wheel. I was looking to take a proven concept and iterate on it, market it better, repeat. That’s why it was important to find something that’s already selling and work from there.
It was hard to find stylish shirts that were already selling. Here’s some of the shirts I found when I did a quick Google search for “dog owner shirts”:
While some of these are okay – they just didn’t fit the aesthetic I was looking for. But, if these are showing up in Google searches, it must mean there’s at the very least a community around these breeds and businesses.
With resources at my fingertips like Creative Market, the Noun Project, and my own modest Photoshop abilities – I knew I was headed in the right direction.
I started to get even more excited about this opportunity.
A few things I noticed immediately about these shirts:
- They’re breed specific
- Some promote a certain lifestyle
- Some are funny
- Some are taking a certain stance on a specific subject
With that in mind, the next step was figuring out how exactly to produce and print the shirts.
Determining How to Print Shirts
In determining how to print these shirts, I wanted to work in a way that allowed me to spend upfront costs on marketing and not inventory.
The only option was to use a print on demand service. There are plenty of options available that integrate with Shopify stores. With services like Merchify, Printify, and Prinftul at your disposal – a print on demand store is easy to setup in minutes.
I decided to take a crack at Printful fulfillment services.
Printful makes running stores an absolute breeze. While it does take some time to get set up and to have all products synced, everything is entirely hands off when things are up and running.
The order flow is incredibly simple. Someone places an order on THINK PUP, Printful takes that order, prints the shirt, ships it out and I pocket the difference.
Best of all, it didn’t require any sort of upfront cost!
Coming Up With a Business Name
I’ve never been too good at coming up with names. In our case, a name wasn’t the most important thing in the world – but otherwise, it’s a fairly important step in building your business.
The products should sell themselves – especially in this type of business. Nobody is going to say “Wow, I’m going to buy the latest THINK PUP shirt!”. No, they’ll buy one or two shirts that are specific to them. It would be hard for me to create a lot of excitement about a new lifestyle dog brand.
There are a few things that I do look at when coming up with a name, however:
- It has to be cute and easy to remember
- As a personal preference, it has to have a .com available
- It has to read nicely and roll of my tongue easily
- All social accounts must be readily available
With that in mind, I started plugging in different synonyms for “dog” into the business name generator tool.
Here are some early results:
I tried things like pooch, pup, puppy, doggy, dog, dogs, pups, puppies….you get the idea. I think you’ll know when you find a name you like. It’ll just sound right.
After a while, I put together a list of names I liked. To get a second opinion, I shared my list with Mark. Here’s what I had:
- PupForce.com (join the #pupforce)
- EveryPup.com (how is this not taken?)
There wasn’t really much of a back and forth process at this point. We both agreed on the same name pretty quickly.
I started by signing up for my 14 day free trial and got down to business. Shopify makes it easy to buy and set up a custom domain. All the configuration is done for you, and your custom domain setup is completed automatically.
And just like that, THINK PUP was born.
Designing a Logo and Storefront
This is my favourite part of building a business. It’s when things really start coming together. There’s nothing more exciting than working on a store for a few hours and watching, piece by piece, your store come to life.
That being said, I did hit a few roadblocks along the way when it came to the design and branding of the business.
I am, unfortunately, not a graphic designer. I may have a decent understanding of design compared to others, but I am by no means a Photoshop or Illustrator whiz.
I’d much rather use free or paid tools to help me create something quickly. I knew that there were resources like Creative Market, Noun Project, Burst, GraphicRiver, and more that I could use to get the ball rolling.
So, that’s what I did. I started my search for a logo for THINK PUP by heading to Noun Project and searching for “dog”. Lots of different logo and icon options came up.
via Noun Project
I wanted something that was approachable but seemed almost exclusive or high quality. One logo that I really like is Drake’s OCTOBER’S VERY OWN logo. It’s simple, approachable, but at the same time feels almost luxurious.
Here’s the icon that I chose – I purchased the extended license for $1.99:
From there, I wanted to include the name of the business in the logo, so I got to work in Photoshop. I had a few different ideas, and the logo went through a few different iterations.
Here are some of them:
It didn’t take too much time to throw these together. The logo was ready.
With the logo finalized, it was now time to start setting up the online store.
Setting Up the Store and Picking a Theme
In our previous case study and build challenge, we decided to use a paid theme that was good for selling a single product.
This time, however, I wanted to use a free theme to minimize costs, and I also wanted to use a theme that was incredibly simple that would let me showcase different shirts on the frontpage of the store.
There’s plenty of options in the Shopify Theme Store, but I ended up choosing the React theme.
NOTE: We’ve made some updates to our Theme Store, and the React theme is no longer available. We recommend trying the new Brooklyn theme instead.
I was happy with the way the store was looking. I knew there would be more tweaks further down the line, but this was perfect as a minimum viable product. I didn’t want to get too distracted with minor details.
The slideshow image is just a simple picture that I purchased from Stocksy. It was $10. Not bad at all. And it’s a great, fun picture!
Some conscious decisions I made about the store’s design:
- I removed the navigation so visitors were forced to scroll down, or click a product
- I made sure all the shirts were displayed on the frontpage
- I made sure to modify the checkout so the colors were onbrand with the rest of the store
- I kept it as simple as possible by only having a FAQ, Contact, and About page
Yes, there was certainly room for improvement (it’s not clear what exactly I am selling at first glance) but by removing the top navigation, the only thing a visitor could do would be to scroll down – which was exactly my intention.
Now, it was time to start filling up the store with products.
The Shirt Design Process Begins
As I’ve previously stated, I’m not a designer. I have a basic understanding of Photoshop. Chances are, you’re in the same boat as I am.
What’s important though is your resourcefulness. If you’re able to be resourceful, you can really do anything. And that, is how I was able to throw together some of these winning designs.
My search began by looking at my list of popular subreddits. What was the first shirt I would make? Should I target a subreddit that’s popular, post to it, and see what happens?
I wanted to make sure that these shirts would sell without stepping on other business owners toes. I know (from first hand experience) that competition will always exist - especially in the clothing and apparel industry- but I did not want to take the spotlight away from someone who has been doing this already.
That proved to be quite difficult as there area lot of dog owner shirts out there and it was quite hard to not cultivate inspiration from them when doing my initial research. If you do some digging, chances are you’ll find some overlap between my designs and others you might find online.
Here’s a list of the places I scoured for fonts, designs, and more that I'd use to design the shirts:
I wasn’t sure how many shirts I should start with. Should I make 10 different breed specific shirts to launch with? 20? 30? What colours should I sell? I really didn’t know. I ended up starting with about 20 different products.
I knew I’d be using a t-shirt mockup generator, but I wasn’t ready for that yet (more on this below).
I decided to make most of the shirts neutral colors after doing some research to see what colors sell best.
Jimi Benedict, Art Director at Teefury posted in this Quora thread saying:
“From reading Impressions magazines, T-shirt forums, and personal experience working with various apparel companies, black and neutrals seem to be best.
Artistically, black usually makes everything pop, and artists typically like designing on black because of it.”
I ended up trying to get a new shirt designed every day. At least one shirt, maybe more. That gave me the ability to test and see which shirts were resonating the most with potential buyers.
Behind the Scenes with Some Shirt Designs
In the past, I’ve taken a look into how much it costs to get custom artwork made for resale. It’s certainly not cheap – and for good reason. If you’re paying an artists for their work, they should absolutely be compensated accordingly.
In this case, highly illustrative, multicolored designs were not what my target demographic were buying. There was no reason for me to spend money hiring illustrators at the initial phase of building this business. It would have eaten up my entire budget with designers charging hundreds to thousands of dollars for work.
I decided to head to Photoshop and just start throwing ideas together for shirts. Here are some of the designs I ended up throwing together that would then eventually be put onto shirts.
Going forward as profits begin to increase, I would certainly revisit this and hire someone to do the shirts for me.
Note: Want to get in touch with some incredible designers? Be sure to check out our Shopify Design Experts and other resources like Dribbble!
Now that I had a few shirt designs done, it was time to get working on the product page.
Effective Product Page Essentials
Because most of the advertising I’d be doing would be sending visitors directly to a specific product page, having enticing copy on the product page wasn’t a huge priority for me.
Having a little story about the breed, and perhaps a story about a specific puppy scenario may have enhanced the product page – but I didn’t include anything like that, simply because I wanted to validate designs quickly.
Chances are if someone is clicking through to the product page – they are already interested in buying. Shirts are, after all, one of the most visually telling products.
A few things that I wanted to include on the product page were however:
- Product title
- Size options
- Garment description
- Shipping times
- Related products
- Product shot
Getting High Quality Shirt Mockups Made
After coming up with a few different designs, I needed to get them onto shirts to look as if they’re real. I didn’t want to order any sample shirts (yet) because I needed the capital I had for marketing.
Luckily, I was able to find an incredible resource that Printful offers. Their shirt generator is not only easy to use, but it also imports the designs directly into your Printful dashboard.
And that saves a ton of time.
After finishing with the mockup and print file generator, I also had the option to download the mockup. This was perfect as it let me upload the mockup directly to my Shopify product page so there was consistency across all shirt designs.
I won’t go into much detail about how to get Shopify and Printful to sync orders – simply because there isn’t much detail to go into. Like the other print on demand services available with Shopify, it’s an incredibly painless integration.
Note: You can read up on the Printful integration FAQ here.
Now, any order that gets placed through my Shopify store gets automatically sent to Printful, they’ll bill my credit card on file, print, pack, and ship the order.
A totally hands off, fully automated experience. That left me with the ability to put my time towards the most important aspect of any online store–marketing.
Determining an Appropriate Pricing Strategy
In the past, I’ve written about psychological pricing tactics and how you can use them to sell more. I applied some of those tactics to this store.
First, I knew that I wanted to have a pretty consistent profit margin of about $10 per shirt sold. Printful charges $13.50 per shirt (depending on what you print on), which meant I needed to charge $23.50 plus shipping.
I took a look at a few different resources online to see how to price the shirts accordingly. I came across this great breakdown of shirt pricing from T-Shirt Magazine that made things easy.
“$16-$24 - The unofficial average price range for the majority of t-shirt brands. Most brands you come across will have their tees at this price range whether they’re new or have been around for a while. Great profit margin if you can afford huge orders, good enough margin if you place small wholesale orders.”
Initially, I wanted to work with something that was low cost so that any savings I was making, I could pass along to the customers. However, nobody wants a poor quality shirt! Plus, these shirts needed to hold up to all the potential puppy loving they'd get.
The type of shirts I decided to print on was the Anvil 980 Lightweight shirt. According to The Printful:
“The Anvil 980 is our most popular shirt with clients who opt for rebranding. This shirt comes with tear away tags that make it possible for inside label printing. Many clients who began with American Apparel 2001 shirts have switched to the Anvil 980 shirts to take advantage of our branding option.”
Note: Shipping costs varied. Most shipping rates were $5 or less within the United States.
So, with that in mind, I set the price at $22.99 to start. This takes advantage of the left digit effect – the same sort of pricing strategy Apple uses on all of their products.
I ended up playing around with pricing strategies further down the road, but for now, $22.99 seemed like a good price point.
With a few shirts loaded up into the store, it was time to flip the switch and push this out into the public.
Soft Launch, Social Account Setup, and My First Sale
It was time to launch. Sort of.
I wanted to grab the low hanging fruit first. By that, I was looking for quick wins – things that could validate the work I had done so far.
There was no point in spending money on marketing if there was no interest in the product at all. I’d be throwing my money away.
That’s why it was sort of launch day. I made a checklist of the things I could do quickly that were free.
Here’s the exact list I made. See if there’s anything you would add or take away.
- Setup social media accounts
- Invite friends to social media accounts
- Setup exit intent email popup
- Post to /r/shutupandtakemymoney on Reddit
Usually I’ll start with one of these and hack away at it until I’m happy with the results, or, if it doesn’t prove to be profitable or improve brand awareness, I’ll move onto the next thing.
Getting all of the social accounts setup was quick and relatively easy. You can check them out here:
I started by inviting all of my friends to the Facebook page. Maybe 20 or so joined immediately and some others trickled in since opening the page.
I didn’t want to connect my personal Facebook account to the Instagram account, so I didn’t add any friends or family to that.
Pinterest was setup later than I had hoped, but I wanted to secure the username so I set that up as well. Same thing with Twitter.
Lowest Hanging Fruit as a Validation Method
In our previous case study, we discussed how incredibly effective posting to specific subreddits is. But, it’s important to be careful with your approach.
Simply put, Redditors (reddit users) don’t like to be directly sold to. That’s why I made sure to only share to specific communities.
I started by sharing the Corgi Low Rider Tee on the popular subreddit /r/shutupandtakemymoney on launch day of the store. This was a complete hail mary and the chance of getting a sale through this channel was quite slim. Although, I figured because it was a cute, simple shirt – maybe it had a chance of making a splash.
It’s not a targeted audience by any means – the only advantage is that everyone who is in this community wants to spend money. I swear, people who browse this subreddit have their credit cards in hand.
And that, proved to be the golden ticket to an unexpected blast off.
The post reached the number one spot on the subreddit that day with 506 total upvotes and 14 comments. It stayed on the homepage of the subreddit for a few days following that too.
As a result, the store took off. I saw an immediate win with real-time traffic hovering anywhere from 40 to 70 live visitors. This lasted for a few hours.