Print on Demand: June 2019 Update

Hi, friends.

Welcome to the June 2019 update post for my Print on Demand work. I post work to a few sites, including Redbubble, Tee Public, Society 6, Zazzle and Merch by Amazon – but in this update post I’m just going to focus on the three that do the best for me, as otherwise this post will end up being a novel. Also, just to add a disclaimer to this post – I am very new to print on demand, I’ve made a few sales, but I have a LOT to learn, so this post is more like a diary entry and much less of a how-to.

As I mentioned in my Etsy update post, June has been an a-typical month as I was out of the country for most of the time. Of course, the amazing thing about print on demand is that it is still working for me even when I’m 4,000 miles away from my laptop, but it does mean that I didn’t really spend any time putting up new work, or analysing any sales or lack thereof!

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Stats for various stores

  • Site name: Redbubble (TimorousEclectc)
  • Sales of all time: 40
  • Sales this month: 2
  • Listings added: 6
  • Listings total: 255
  • Profit this month: £1.88
  • Profit of all time: £15.65
  • Hours worked: 4
  • Site name: Tee Public (Timorous Eclectic)
  • Sales of all time: 35
  • Sales this month: 6
  • Listings added: 5
  • Listings total: 157
  • Profit this month: £16.60
  • Profit of all time: £83.00
  • Hours worked: 4
  • Site name: Society6 (Timorous Eclectic)
  • Sales of all time: 5
  • Sales this month: 0
  • Listings added: 2
  • Listings total: 130
  • Profit this month: £0.00
  • Profit of all time: £21.60
  • Hours worked: 4

Where am I at with the stores?

With Tee Public and Redbubble it’s the same few designs that sell for me over and over again – which in some ways feels good because I’ve obviously designed something well. It can also be a bit disheartening, because I uploaded those designs months ago and nothing else I add now seems to generate any sales, or even interest. Additionally, the designs that seem to work for me are simple text-based designs, and not the ones featuring my artwork. Don’t get me wrong, I love making text-based designs too, but I would love to develop my artwork design skills so that in time I can sell them more – but it’s hard to know where to start in terms of learning?

Society6 is totally different for me. I’ve only had a few sales there, but I’ve sold some higher ticket items like duvet covers – which is really, really exciting for me! I actually need to stop thinking of Society 6 as “another POD site” and do some more research into what works well there, and then start designing specifically for that site, I think.

Screenshot_2019-07-01 'Florida Theme Park Snacks - Hand Painted on Purple' Spiral Notebook by TimorousEclectc
This is one of the new designs I put up this month – can you tell I’m missing my Florida vacation?! This was also a return to uploading work painted with acrylics. I’m quite happy with how it turned out, but I know with practice I can do more with the style.

What’s going well?

Between the 3 sites, I do reliably make a little money each month. It’s not much, but it’s enough of a trickle to fill me with hope that this can go somewhere and grow into something. Quite a few of my design Pins on Pinterest get a lot of traffic and some click-throughs, which again, right now might not count for much, but shows me that I’m doing something right, and that if I keep working, things can grow. Basically I feel like I have a mountain to climb, but I do at least feel like I’ve found the start of the path.

What’s not going so well?

the trickle of sales is very much a trickle. I think a lot of that is my fault though – I think for a while I’ve sort of been cranking out quite a high number of designs basically on a whim of what I liked, and not spending enough time researching trends, what styles do well on the sites and things like that.

In my head I think I definitely lump all the POD sites I use together, but I think I need to rectify that and separate them out into totally different markets with different demographics.

What am I going to be spending my time on in July?

I think I’m in one of those situations where what I’m doing – cranking out a lot of designs – isn’t really working and I need to accept that and change tactic a bit. For July I’d like to invest time in really getting to know each site as an individual and to be able to better understand how to design for them. I want to look at what’s out there, how my designs fit in, and come up with a plan to tailor what I’m doing for that site in the future.

Screenshot_2019-07-01 'Love this Life - White Brush Lettering Motivational Quote' Acrylic Block by TimorousEclectc
One of the text-based designs I released this month – again, I feel like it might be more than a bit vacation inspired!!!

What goals am I going to report back on in the next update?

Rather than worrying this month about increasing income directly, I want to be able to sit here at the end of next month with a much better plan to guide me going forward. In literal terms, I want to take apart my “POD notebook” and start separating ideas, strategies and sketches out into site-specific notebooks. I’m naturally a very impatient person and I also generally learn best by doing, but making random designs and seeing what sticks is exhausting a bit disheartening. Obviously, not every design will sell and that’s to be expected, but I’d like to improve my ratio a bit at least and ensure that I’m creating portfolios full of work I’m proud of.

That’s it for this month’s Print on Demand Update – not super meaty this month as I haven’t been focusing a lot of time on Print on Demand in June. I’d love to connect with other people who sell on POD platforms – so if thats’ you, or if you have any questions in general, please come and say hi in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Timorous Eclectic (Etsy): June 2019 Update

Hi everyone! This is the very first in a new series of monthly update posts that I’m going to be producing. The idea is that each month, I’ll produce a post like this for each area of business that I’m trying to develop. These posts will be less chatty, and more bullet point style round-ups full of relevent stats! My hope is that producing these posts will be a straight-forward way for readers to follow my journey – as well as join in and share their own stories! I also think that sitting down once a month like this and analysing each business area will be good for me too, that it will help me focus and grow.

If you’re new to this blog (hello!), please know that I’m just starting out on my entrepreneurial journey and sharing things as I go along, I’m certainly no expert!

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Stats for Timorous Eclectic, my Etsy Store

  • How long the store has been live: Since Summer 2018
  • What it sells: Digital only products – paper packs and greetings cards
  • Total sales of all time: 37
  • Sales this month: 4
  • Total Feedback of all time: 3
  • Feedback left this month: 1
  • Turnover: £8.00
  • Profit (after all Etsy fees): £1.03
  • Listings live at the start of the month: 53
  • Listings live at the end of the month: 59
  • Hours worked: 20
  • Promotions:  Promoted listings running, bids of $0.05 on each listing

June Recap for Timorous Eclectic

So, June was a very a-typical month for me – I was away on holiday for over two weeks. I had actually planned ahead and made enough new products that I would be able to release one every second day that I was away, but honestly, it completely went out of my head once I was away and I did exactly nothing for the store!

So, I’m assuming that this will have had a negative impact on my traffic and sales for the month, but at least this makes a good “base point” as a first update post – it can only be up from here… right?

Specific Incident

I got my first negative feedback this month. I’ve really struggled with getting feedback left for me at all, at the start of this month, only 2 people had left feedback, despite me actually having quite a few repeat customers! So when I got the notification to say I had feedback left for me, I was really excited – it was on my Infectious Disease Paper Pack which has sold quite a few times before.

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Link to the paper pack

Actually the customer left me a 4 star review (which I know, doesn’t sound bad), but then wrote a paragraph that’s very negative:

I printed the purple virus paper at UPS on high letterhead size paper and also on an 8×10 at home. Both had pretty distinct lines through the design because it wasn’t high enough quality. I still ended up using it for my graduation cap background and with the sticker words across the paper it made the lines not as noticeable.

I totally panicked, pulled the listing and did test prints of everything, as well as checking all the images digitally (they are all of course, high resolution). I also refunded the buyer and sent an email apologising, and asking of an image of her print-out so that I might understand the problem.

I never heard back from the buyer and could see no issues at all on any of my own print-outs. White lines across a print-out usually indicate a jammed ink nozzle or a low-quality print setting, and so I’m left to believe that this was the case here. But with only having 3 reviews, this reads pretty bad for me – with it being technically 4 stars though, I can’t respond to it publically.

This was really dis-heartening. I work really hard on the products I create, and I hate that someone had a negative experience with one of them, even if the issue was on their end. I guess this might just be the downside of selling digital-download items on Etsy though – I have no control over how people print, manipulate or compress the files.

What’s Going Well?

I’m really enjoying making the paper packs – I have a steady stream of ideas (my next 20 or so packs are planned out), and I’ve got a good flow down for making them. I’m also starting to see some click-throughs from Pinterest and some forums, which is exciting, and something I hope continues to grow

What’s Not Going Well?

Erm, I’m not selling much?

I know that taking a huge break this month was not a very smart thing to do, but even in the months before sales really haven’t been picking up the way I’d have hoped for. With Etsy it’s so hard to know, is it my products? My pricing? my SEO? And then what happens is, I read and watch a bunch of advisory content, change 10 things and then who knows what has an impact – for better or worse.

I need to be more structured, sort of pick one plan and stick to it for a while at least.

What’s my Plan for July – Where am I Putting my Time?

I’m going to spend less of my time frantically cranking out designs, and more time researching. I want to look into:

  • Pricing for my products, how am I comparing to competitors?
  • Trends, what’s popular on the forums, what’s about to be big
  • Niche, the paper packs that have done the best for me are actually more obscure, niche ones (like the infectious disease pack), so I’d like to come up with some more fun ideas like this
  • Possibly expanding out into other digital items such as clip-art packs or prints

What are my Goals for July?

I’d like to see a growth in sales and traffic, which, hopefully, with giving my store a bit more attention, should be quite feasible.

I’m also hoping that by implementing the points in the section above, that by the end of July I’ll have a firmer grasp on what I’m doing with my Etsy store, more of a business plan type of vibe, rather than me just doodling paper packs on an ad-hoc basis.

I’d love your feedback on my store – whether you’re an Etsy seller or not! Please feel free to leave any questions or suggestions below in the comments!