Can you believe it’s been a YEAR since my last blog update?
I have no idea how many of you will even read this, so I’ll just start out by saying helloooooooo to anyone reading this post.
…..all three of you! LOL!!
Before I jump in, let me touch on some personal things. Many of you have continued to reach out and ask about my dad since I’ve been gone. I appreciate you for that.
Not only is my dad doing well, but he’s back to traveling the world!
I took my family to Jamaica earlier this year to celebrate family and good health. A few months later, my parents went to Australia, and my mom joked that my dad walked her all over the continent.
What a blessing considering he couldn’t walk at all for nearly 3 months in 2018. And if you saw him walk, you’d never know he broke both of his ankles when he passed out. There’s no visible limp whatsoever!
If you had told me 3 years ago that I would be making a good portion of my income from my own digital art, I would have laughed!
It all started with the Merch By Amazon program.
I’ve earned nearly $150,000 in royalties selling digital art on Amazon alone. That doesn’t include any additional royalties from other sites and niche shops on Spreadshirt, TeePublic, Etsy, RedBubble and more.
I have a handful of shops on different niches, and a few with some random topics. My niche shops always, always outperform the random ones.
In Summer, 2018, I realized Merch By Amazon (MBA) was getting more competitive, and I knew that the glory days would be coming to an end sooner than later.
I wanted to diversify and focus on one niche.
So instead of doing all this random keyword stuff, I took a keyword/niche that I had discovered on Amazon the previous year and began building a shop for that audience.
It’s not a niche I am all that passionate about, but the low demand really got my attention. Plus, I was already selling in this space on Amazon. So I figured I could dominate this market by increasing my volume of designs.
I opened up a free RedBubble shop, and it was super slow going in the first few months. I’m talking about $5 monthly earnings. Yikes!
Slowly but surely, things began to pick up. I now have sales everyday.
I chose RedBubble because I didn’t have a following in this niche, and I knew they already had a lot of organic traffic. Plus, they offer tons of products and are constantly adding them.
In September of this year, I hit my first $3,000 month with this brand alone.
It’s important to note that $3,000 in one month is not just coming from shop sales. I began licensing certain designs to people who want to print and sell them on their local shops.
This was never the plan, but people kept reaching out to me and asking about licensing and custom work.
I didn’t want other people selling the same designs I was selling, so I decline some requests. However, if someone needs something completely different then I will create the image and charge a licensing fee. The price depends on how they plan to use it.
I setup a simple landing page on my domain where people can order a license with PayPal. So that added another income stream I wasn’t expecting.
I was very lucky that I found a niche that was completely underserved from an ecommerce standpoint. These people are elated that someone is actually devoting unique designs and a single shop to their niche. That has been key!
If you want to learn more about exactly how I chose the keyword and built the ecommerce brand from scratch, you can read the story over on Passive Shirt Profits. I wrote it in June, just after my first $2,000 month.
Why I Abandoned This Blog… Again.
My overall goal was to come back here from time to time and share website marketing lessons that I’ve gained from running Passive Shirt Profits.
But to be brutally honest, I’m making more money from my own art than I am teaching what I’m doing. So there hasn’t been all that much to share to this audience with regards to marketing.
After all, most of you signed up because you want to make money from a website, but I’m actually doing a lot WITHOUT a website believe it or not.
Now, I did setup a site to promote the shop, but it’s really just a landing page. I have a couple of pages and the license fee order form.
As I discussed in a recent video, I’ve spent the better part of the last two years improving my software knowledge (Illustrator, especially.)
Now it’s time to go back to my roots of website building and marketing — especially now that I’m focusing on a single brand.
In 2020, I’m going to put more energy into actually building the site up so it can act as another way to drive traffic to the shop. In other words, it’s time to build some more link juice!
Wow….link juice! I just realized I haven’t used THAT phrase in a long time!
I was pleased to see that one of my pages is now ranked 4th on Google for its desired keyword on such a small site. Good ole’ Google! I have to say, it does still let you play in the long-tail keyword game.
Long gone are the days where you could pick a fairly competitive keyword and start ranking a site quickly. I plan on using long tail keywords as the focus of the content to drive additional traffic.
And when I say long-tail, I mean LOOOOONG tail. The keyword I’m ranking for is about 6 keywords long. Nevertheless, it’s still used according to the Keywords Everywhere Chrome extension.
So the majority of the sales are coming from free, organic traffic on RedBubble, but I want that to change. You KNOW how much I hate relying on one source of traffic.
That’s one of the reasons I haven’t shared the niche. I’m very protective of it, and I’ve had to deal with enough theft of my ideas WITHOUT even using my name on this brand and sharing it. So I don’t even want to think about the copycats that would surface if I revealed it.
Maybe once I have a steady traffic source that is not relying so much on free traffic, I can start sharing more. That would also help with teaching because people can actually SEE what I’m doing.
I did branch out and start using Pinterest last year to promote my shop designs. So that has helped me diversify traffic a bit.
I love Pinterest because it can bring so much traffic for a long period of time. You don’t get that same traction with Instagram or Twitter.
I even have proof that Pinterest actually brings sales to my shop, thanks to Google Analytics.
Let me tell you. If you have an ecommerce shop and you are NOT using Pinterest, you are really, really missing out.
Pinterest is actually not a social media site. It’s a search engine that tons of people use now, and the traffic does convert!
I have been a Pinterest fan since it launched in 2011, but I was never able to track sales. Well, thanks to RedBubble, I can. It’s good to see that it actually does convert.
I know many of the gurus have said that it does, but I needed to see for myself!
A Parallel Universe
Probably one of the most fascinating things about running Passive Shirt Profits is the discovery of the parallel problems between both audiences.
When I think back to the many years of running this website and my YouTube channel, the issue people always had was aligning what they want to sell with what people actually want to buy.
Sometimes they are not the same, and you have to adjust if you notice the two are not lining up.
I’ve had people come to me with these enormous, complex website visions, yet the audience hasn’t been clearly defined. So they are never able to execute because the idea doesn’t really make sense with what is actually in demand.
When people set out to make money online (no matter the method), they often have tunnel vision with regards to their idea, and it can be very difficult to redirect it.
Just because you have an idea for a website or a T-shirt, doesn’t mean there is an audience that is receptive to the idea, OR maybe you aren’t connecting with people because of the way you are delivering it.
So instead of trying to find an audience that will accept or understand your idea, you need to actually research what the audience wants FIRST.
When I think back to the success I’ve had on this website, YouTube and with selling shirts, it has LESS to do with my technical skills of web or T-shirt design. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t have a lot of natural design talent.
It’s really more about understanding the audience I’m talking to and connecting to them in some way with my content.
That could be done by communicating via a blog post, YouTube video OR on a T-shirt. It doesn’t matter what you sell, you have to KNOW and be able to speak to your audience. But you can’t do that unless you truly know what they want and need.
It’s very tempting to stay married to your idea, T-shirt design or website direction, but it always needs to align with what is actually in demand.
I see so many people trying to force their ideas on an audience that hasn’t been validated yet, and they do the same thing with T-shirts.
One of my YouTube subscribers wanted me to look at his Etsy shop because he couldn’t understand why no one was buying. He told me that he doesn’t like doing research. He prefers to design what he likes.
Welp! There’s the problem right there!
Selling a product, no matter the arena, is not always about what YOU want. It’s more about what a defined audience wants and how well you can deliver it.
That’s the main lesson I wanted to bring back here. It doesn’t matter if you plan to create a website, design a T-shirt or sell a weight loss product on YouTube.
If you haven’t taken the time to really understand that audience so you can connect with their needs, pain points and desires, it won’t matter how “great” the idea is.
It’s also why it’s never a good idea for anyone to tell you what niche to go into. So much of that will depend on what you have to offer the audience.
Having websites in two very different spaces really highlighted how many people struggle with that all-important step of defining WHO they are going to reach and how they are going to connect with them.
Market / niche research is one of the most boring parts of earning online, but it cannot be skipped no matter how you plan to earn.
Anywho, just wanted to check in and say hello! Drop me a line and let me know what you’re up to! Hope 2019 has treated you well!