My T-shirt tutorial website is live and I have never been more excited about a website launch!
Because for the first time I feel like I’m doing things in the RIGHT order.
Even though 2 Create a Website has had tremendous amounts of success, I always felt like I did a lot of things backwards.
For example, I waited way too long to start a list, sell products, etc. That’s largely because I didn’t have to.
Having said that, it worked very well for me because I got an early start and was able to capitalize on search engine optimization, residual affiliate programs that I still earn from today and other advantages you gain as an early adopter.
But things have evolved since I launched this site, and my strategy has to evolve as well.
When I launched a website many years ago, I’d focus on building up a ton of content for search engine traffic and monetize that free info with affiliate links ads.
That won’t work as well today.
I also care more about building a list and selling my OWN products instead of someone else’s.
In this post I will discuss what I am doing differently with my new site, and how I’ve grown in a business sense.
Say Hello to Passive Shirt Profits!
If you’ve been following me lately, you can’t be surprised about a new website.
Since getting into Merch by Amazon last fall, I have been completely obsessed with print on demand — the process of uploading an image, adding it to a product and earning a royalty when it’s sold.
By the end of this year, I will cross the six figure mark in royalties, and most of those earnings have come recently.
I’ve also branched out and I’m selling designs in over 25 different niches/topics thanks to Merch.
Not bad for a part-time gig!
I decided to create Passive Shirt Profits for two main reasons:
- I want to diversify my income with courses and not just rely on the very unreliable POD income
- There is a gap in the market when it comes to helping newbies learn software as it relates to creating T-shirt designs
I keep hearing people in the POD world complain about Photoshop or Illustrator being difficult to learn, and I say to myself, “That’s ’cause you haven’t taken my courses!”
I don’t want to just focus on individual print on demand sites like Merch By Amazon.
I want to teach practical skills such as coming up with creative shirt concepts for many niches (one of my secret weapons with Merch By Amazon) and software.
It seems so many people are doing Merch sites and courses with a lot of the same info. I want mine to include more practical lessons.
That’s why it’s important to research what potential competitors are doing and pay attention to comments in private groups, forums, etc. I used this as inspiration for my upcoming courses.
With that being said, let’s get into what I’m doing differently…
I Started an Email List Early
I will never, ever, ever, launch another site again without having an email list.
I didn’t launch one for this site until 2010. By that time, 2 Create a Website was eight years old!
I also did not have any products to sell at the time, so I didn’t really utilize my email list to the fullest.
This time I started an email list immediately, and thanks to my private group and podcast I already have 31 subscribers after just 2 weeks.
The Podcasting Hype is Real
I launched my PSP Podcast on May 29th without announcing it, and had 30+ downloads and two email subscribers within the first week.
(I have a call to action for my list at the end of the episodes.)
That goes to show that people are searching and listening to podcasts about Merch and print on demand, so choosing that as one of my traffic methods seems to have been a good choice.
Podcasting is always a great option for money/business topics anyway.
After two weeks, I’ve already had 150 downloads! (The additional traffic boost came from announcing it to my private group after the first week).
By the way, I’m loving Pat Flynn’s Smart Podcast Player! (No affiliation) It’s so functional and works great on mobile too!
I love that people can listen to all shows in one place on my landing page, search episodes and share on social media — all in one concise, mobile-friendly interface!
I am Not Waiting Eons to Launch a Product
Three courses for PSP are already complete, and should be out within a week or so. Make sure you are on my list if you want to be notified.
I’m just waiting for my reviewers to give me feedback so I can polish them up before launch.
One reason I’m announcing the site before the courses launch is so I’ll have people on my list.
And it feels super encouraging to have people in my private group actually ASK me when the courses are coming out!
That’s confirmation there is demand for what I’m teaching, and that’s always a plus when you create a site and product.
Also, when you wait a long time to launch a product, you may struggle with what to include and what to leave out because you already have so much published content.
This was a huge struggle with me on this site when I first launched my affiliate course in 2014.
It took me a full year of updates to finally get it to a point where there is a significant amount of different info that I don’t have elsewhere.
Now I understand why people say your first course draft is always your worst because you are constantly adding/improving over time.
And just for the record, it’s totally fine to include material in your course that you’ve covered in blog posts, emails, etc. (especially if you are upfront about it). I personally wanted it to have a lot of new material.
I didn’t struggle with that with PSP because I have very little content out here on this subject, and that was completely intentional.
I Simplified The Site Layout
I cannot believe I actually have a website with only one column!
At first I thought it would feel restrictive.
Then I realized I actually enjoy reading clean sites with lots of white space (especially on mobile), and I rarely pay attention to the sidebar links and widgets.
More importantly, when I check my Google Analytics I realized how many people have the same browsing habits!
Because more and more people browse on mobile devices now, that means the sidebar drops below the main content (if your theme is responsive).
As a result, many people don’t even see your sidebar, much less click on the links!
So I made the decision to go with a minimalist design approach. We’ll see how long that lasts!
There’s not a lot to do at PSP just yet, and that was done for a reason.
Right now, I’m focusing on podcasting and building my list for the upcoming courses. I’m keeping it very simple right now so I can track certain activities.
I’m using the Maker Pro StudioPress theme. (affiliate link)
I Paid More Attention To What My Audience Needs
This is the first time I’ve ever had a niche community prior to building a website and it was very helpful.
The great thing about starting a private group before launching a site and product is that I have been able to gain insight into what people struggle with so I can address those issues in my courses.
When you create a course, it’s easy to fall into the trap of adding what YOU think is important, but a customer might value something else.
Here you are going on and on about step B and your audience is yelling….
“Hey!! But wait! You didn’t even explain step A well enough!”
We make a lot of assumptions when we’re creating our products and many times it’s because we don’t really know what people want.
In addition, we’re often too close to the subject and assume people know or will learn it the way that we did. So we skip what we think is obvious to us, but it might not be obvious to the student.
I am also having people review my courses before launch. I also did this with my Spreadshirt course, and I promised to never launch without this step.
It’s always good to get a person in your target audience to view the course with fresh eyes from THEIR perspective.
Again, we are often so close to our content, we miss key information that someone might need.
I’m Starting With a 101 Course
I’ve read over and over again that you should always have an intro course to upsell other advanced courses.
Plus, if someone likes your intro course they are much more likely to buy more.
So for example, I have a 101 course for someone who knows absolutely nothing about print on demand, what software to buy, etc.
The follow-up courses are on brainstorming, software, etc.
I’m also planning to have smaller courses and then offer a bundle that will be less expensive than buying each course individually.
My first courses on Udemy taught me a lot about what students like and don’t like. Those lessons were invaluable.
I’ve learned from feedback that people like…
- a mix of text and video content
- shorter videos (My avg. video length is 5 min)
- shorter courses (No more than 90 minutes)
I’m using Thinkific (no affiliation), and I’ll do another post about why I chose them and ditched Teachable at the last minute. Thanks, LaTosha for the push to switch.
(Learn why I won’t be uploading to Udemy anymore.)
I’m Learning to Set Boundaries
If you value your sanity and want people to respect that your time is valuable, you HAVE to learn to set boundaries for yourself and business.
There was a time when I would do a LOT for people for free, and while I know people appreciated it, I now realize some abused it.
It drained the heck out of me!
And PLEASE don’t feel sorry for me because I allowed it. I’m sharing this so YOU don’t fall into the same trap I did.
The one incident that sticks out in my mind was when I helped a gentleman with his website code. We went back and forth for 3 days until the issue was finally resolved.
He praised me for the help I gave him and I felt awesome.
A week later he was back with another site issue…
And then another…
Now multiply this story by several others over the course of many years.
From the outside, it looked generous and helpful. I genuinely DO enjoy helping people.
But trying to help everyone came with a price…
- I began to feel overwhelmed, stressed and started to experience burnout.
- I was teaching people that my time doesn’t cost a dime and some began to expect it.
- I had less time to work on my own stuff
Keep in mind, I’m not just talking about answering questions that require one or two sentence answers. I certainly don’t mind it when people email me with questions.
In fact, I welcome that!
I’m talking about extensive work like helping people with code, coming up with strategies for their sites and things that took a lot of time — especially when you are doing this for several people per month.
(Not to mention I was also doing this for people in my personal life for free.)
That’s one of the reasons I decided to open my Facebook group to students only. That was my first small step into the world of setting boundaries.
Two years ago, I would have felt selfish saying all this, and would have NEVER admitted this on my blog.
Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for setting those boundaries. Also, don’t complain about people sucking up your time without paying if you’re allowing it.
There’s an old saying that goes…
You teach people how to treat you.
That holds true in every area of life, even business.
While I will never change how I operate in terms of integrity and ethics online, I have learned that it is OK to say “no” and set boundaries for what I will and won’t do for free.
If I Could Start Over…
Creating this new site caused me to reflect a LOT on 2 Create a Website.
If I could launch this all over again I would have kept the content much more focused instead of covering Internet marketing, earning online AND WordPress.
Website creation or blogging might seem specific enough at first, but it attracts people who want to create so many different kinds of sites and their reasons for the site varies.
I would get questions on how to create sites I had no idea or interest in creating, as a result, I alienated potential subscribers and customers right off the bat.
Looking back, I would have narrowed down the focus to tutorials for creating a specific kind of site like an infopreneur website — which is really what this site is.
So if you’re looking to create a site in this space, make note of that. Don’t be afraid to narrow the focus down.
Everyone and their mama has a how-to blogging site these days, but not many are “niching down” to a type of website (ecommerce, membership, infopreneur, etc.), and I think there are major opportunities there.
It may feel like you are alienating people, but what you’re doing is attracting a very specific audience that will be easier to target content to.
This Isn’t Goodbye…
…It’s more like “hello” to new lessons!
While I may not be blogging or podcasting here regularly (it’s not like I have been anyway!), I will certainly be back to share the lessons along the way like I am now.
Having a new site will make my content here even more helpful if you’re also doing some of the same things.
So you’re not getting rid of me that easily!
Having said that, I will be focusing more of my attention on PSP due to the fact it’s new and I will be dedicating time to helping students when the courses launch.
I’m Growing Up!
This has been such a journey, and I’m so happy to be able to share these lessons with you.
I’ve been in transition for quite a while now with my business, and I finally feel like I’m moving in the right direction.
One thing’s for sure…
There is a big difference between monetizing free content with ads and affiliate links and selling your own products when it comes to overall strategy.
I have learned how much I truly did NOT understand about business and setting boundaries.
It’s ironic that people often come to me for coaching on starting an online business when I feel like I’m JUST now grasping many of the core fundamentals.
Kinda crazy, right?
But I don’t regret a thing I did or any mistake I made because that’s how I learned.
You have to put things out there and make mistakes so you can learn what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do!
So the journey continues…