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How to Sell Custom Jewelry Online and Actually Make Money

How to Sell Custom Jewelry Online and Actually Make Money

29 million Americans said they owned jewelry in 2018. To put in perspective, that’s the size of the population of Texas. We did the math, and you’d need approximately 362 lifetimes to meet that many people.

As an ecommerce store owner, you can see there are a lot of possibilities in that number, and it’s just a matter of finding the right path for your business to access them. We’re here to help you understand how to sell personalized jewelry and grow your store in the process.

In this blog article, we’ll go over why selling jewelry online is the next big thing, how to find that pricing sweet spot and best places to sell your jewelry, and how to introduce custom jewelry in a way that makes sense for your store.

Why sell personalized jewelry online?

The jewelry industry has been slow to adapt to the world of ecommerce that apparel sellers embraced so quickly. But now jewelry is catching up fast. According to McKinsey, jewelry sales are expected to reach $275 billion by 2020, and a whopping $645 billion in 2035.

McKinsey predicts that 10% of jewelry sales in 2020 will take place online. And with jewelry profit margins averaging 42.6%, it’s a market well worth researching for all existing and potential ecommerce business owners out there.

Another reason to sell jewelry online is its evergreen quality. No matter the time of the year, custom jewelry is never out of season. If your ecommerce marketing calendar has the right dates on it, you can create holiday-related marketing campaigns focusing on your line of jewelry.

For example, June 8 is Best Friend Day, which means you can come up with a special offer for best friend necklaces. Boss Day on October 8 is perfect for designing custom bracelets celebrating the world’s best bosses.

Where to start?

When it comes to choosing the products to sell, bracelets and necklaces are classics for a reason—people love and wear them. As you know, jewelry can be made from a lot of different materials, but if you want to add value to your store consider fine jewelry that’s made from quality silver, gold, or other precious metals.

There are various production techniques used with precious metals, but engraving is the way to go since it adds a unique tactile feeling to a bracelet or necklace. So by adding engraved jewelry to your product selection you’ll attract customers who love high quality premium products. That’s why in this blog post we’re going to focus on how to sell engraved necklaces and bracelets.

First things first—you have to decide how much time and effort you want to invest in creating personalized engraved jewelry.

Option 1. Create and fulfill custom engraved jewelry yourself

The biggest benefit of creating jewelry yourself is you have full control over the process. You’re the one who chooses a quality engraving machine and supplies, and handles each order to make sure the customer has the perfect unboxing experience.

However, this option comes with some potential deal-breakers. First, you have to get the supplies and tools for engraving, which means investing your own money, especially if you’re going to order in bulk. For those starting in ecommerce, this might not be financially possible.

Second, not all of us have the time to master precise and sleek engraving skills to create minimalistic jewelry, which is particularly difficult with hand-held tools. But without properly learning the skill you can end up with poor quality products, damaged items that’ll make you lose money, or even worse—bad reviews on your store.

creating-your-own-jewelry

Third, engraving, packaging, and shipping each order takes time. And after your business takes off, this model can be difficult to scale unless you’re willing to manage your store full-time. So with future success in mind, it might be more beneficial to choose a trusted fulfillment partner for your personalized jewelry.

Option 2. Use an on-demand fulfillment service

Using an on-demand fulfillment service that offers custom engraved jewelry solves the problems outlined above. You lose control over the creation and fulfillment processes, but gain quality and time to focus on your business and marketing the products.

To get the best results, you need to choose a reliable white-label production partner that has engraved jewelry in their product range. For example, Printful offers high quality engraved silver bar necklaces and bracelets with silver, gold, and rhodium coatings. You just need to add your designs to the products, and start selling jewelry on your store.

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Printful charges your account only when a customer makes an order. Then they fulfill the order and send it directly to your customer under your brand. You set your own profit margins, so you can mark up your custom jewelry the way you see fit.

With Printful, all jewelry orders have free shipping, which can significantly increase your average order value.

Using a partner makes sense if you prefer developing a business strategy and marketing the products, and leaving the production process to professionals. To find a fulfillment partner that meets your standards, order some product samples and test them out.

How to price jewelry?

Once you have the fulfillment sorted, find the right price for your products. Pricing is tricky because the price tag needs to reflect the quality of the product and bring in profit, but also appeal to customers who have a lot of other shopping options at their fingertips.

As we mentioned before, jewelry generally has very high and stable profit margins with sellers reporting similar results year after year despite market fluctuations. Researching how established competitors value their products can give you an idea of what works for the audience you’re targeting.

For example, a search for engraved silver bar necklaces on Etsy reveals products with prices ranging from $16 to upwards of $150. A simple Sarah Chloe engraved gold-plated silver bar necklace at Macy’s costs $118. So evaluate the competition, calculate the profit margins, and decide what makes sense for your store.

gold-necklace

Source: Macy’s

Let’s take the Macy’s $118 necklace as an example. Printful would charge you $24.95 for a comparable product. Since all orders have free shipping, the necklace would give you a $93.05 gross profit with an 80% profit margin.

Some ecommerce platforms, such as Shopify, Woocommerce, and Etsy even offer a personalization feature that allows customers to design their own bracelet or necklace directly on your storefront. Giving your customers the option to order jewelry with their own unique designs increases your profit margins even more.

Read our article on how to market expensive products to learn helpful tips and tricks on finding the right price work for your engraved jewelry line.

Best places to sell jewelry online

When you’ve decided on the price, it’s time to find the right place to sell custom-made jewelry. One option is to create your own online store (or add a new category to an existing store—more on that later). This way you can customize the store to your heart’s content, creating a truly tailor-made shopping experience.

Another option is to use online marketplaces that are well-known for their extensive jewelry collections. Even if you already have an established store, multichannel selling can be a game-changer when it comes to finding new target audiences. Let’s take a look at some of the marketplaces you should consider.

Etsy

Note: The term ‘Etsy’ is a trademark of Etsy, Inc. Printful’s application uses the Etsy API but is not endorsed or certified by Etsy, Inc.

Personalized jewelry is one of Etsy’s best-selling categories, so Etsy is the place to sell jewelry. With almost 39.5 million active buyers in 2018, it’s a good place to get noticed.

sell-engraved-jewelry-etsy

Source: Etsy

Just being on Etsy, however, is not enough. You have to optimize your product listings by using the right keywords, adding eye-catching product pictures, and constantly monitoring what works and what doesn’t. So invest some time to research how to successfully sell products on Etsy.

eBay

eBay is one of the few industry leaders with years of experience in ecommerce, and its 167 million monthly visitors make it a formidable market player.

ebay-engraved-jewelry

Source: eBay

But such numbers also signal that there’s a lot of competition, so you should have some tricks up your sleeve to make sure your bracelets and necklaces are seen. This means getting to know eBay’s algorithms inside and out and reading up on how to boost your rankings.

Amazon

Amazon is an ecommerce giant that’s not going to stop their expansion anytime soon. In 2018 alone, the company’s net revenue was $232.89 billion dollars. Plus, Amazon has global marketplaces for sellers who want their engraved jewelry to go international.

amazon-angraved-jewelry

Source: Amazon

Just note that Amazon has rules in place for all sellers, so it may take some time for you to actually start selling jewelry on their marketplace. Luckily, there are plenty of resources to help you get started with Amazon.

Introducing custom jewelry to your store

If you already have a successful ecommerce store, jewelry can spice up your product range. Adding new products shows your customers that your business is thriving and expanding. So put some time into planning a launch to make sure the new products tie in with your brand image.

When planning, always have your target audience and business niche in mind. Here are some strategies you can use when introducing custom engraved jewelry to your store.

Connect it to your brand

The designs you use on your t-shirts aren’t going to work on jewelry. But you can definitely connect the two products to attract customers who are already fans of your t-shirts. For example, jewelry works very well with text-based designs, so if your t-shirts feature words or taglines, put them on your jewelry as well.

Or if you’re the owner of a brand that’s already a household name, create bracelets and necklaces with your branding, so your most loyal customers can act as brand ambassadors.

Do limited editions

Use FOMO as a marketing tool, and create limited edition personalized jewelry that’s exclusive to your store. There’s nothing like a countdown clock to motivate customers to make their order.

limited-edition-jewelry

Source: Mango

If the limited edition campaign is successful, you can consider adding jewelry products to your product range with a “back by popular demand” announcement. This way you can test out your customers’ response and make sure they’re not surprised seeing a new category on your store.

Target special events

Special events are a great time to introduce something new to your store. And there are so many options to choose from! For example, you can pick an international holiday, like Siblings Day, and come up with a line of jewelry to celebrate all the amazing siblings out there.

It can also be an event that’s special for your brand. Offer a new product as a thank you to all your customers a year after launching your store, or when you get your 100th 5-star product review.

Start selling custom jewelry today

Whether you’re just at the beginning of your ecommerce journey, or you’re already an established player with lots of experience, consider selling custom jewelry as your next passion project.

With all the impressive sales numbers and possibility for high profit margins, jewelry can become a best-seller on your store. Especially if you put in the work and do your research. So go ahead—discover a new niche in your ecommerce journey! And don’t forget to share your own experience with selling jewelry in the comments below.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing in 5 Steps

How to Start Affiliate Marketing in 5 Steps

When you hear the phrase making passive income online, what do you think of? Kicking back on a sunny beach knowing the blog article or video you just published is getting you millions of views and thousands in the bank?

Of course, passive income isn’t that passive after all. The term is closely associated with side-income, and one way to earn this extra money is through online affiliate marketing. You create online content (such as a YouTube channel or a blog) and monetize it.

Perhaps you’re a full-time student, parent, or employee and have a small audience for a hobby you’re into. If that’s the case, then affiliate marketing can be a great way to turn your existing page or video views into extra money on the side.

Affiliate marketing is an online marketing tactic that rewards content creators for promoting a certain product or service. Based on the affiliate program, creators can earn money, free services, or other rewards.

Each promotional offer has a personal affiliate link which is shared with your audience so the company knows where the traffic is coming from.

affiliate_marketing_infograph

Source: Shopify

Sounds simple enough, but how do you get there from scratch? Keep reading and find out!

Step 1: Find a niche

Having a niche is all about being an authority on a certain topic. When you’re an expert in a certain field, people will trust you and spend money on the things you recommend. That’s how you make money as an affiliate.

A niche is something you enjoy – could be dancing, or video games – however, that’s still quite broad, you’ll need to narrow it down.

Maybe you like traditional folk dancing and can write about cross-country adventures with your dance troupe. Or maybe you’re into video games.

Take Girlfriend Reviews, where instead of talking about the video games themselves, Shelby, actress and girlfriend, talks about what it’s like to live with her boyfriend Matt, who is a huge gaming fanatic.

girlfriend_reviews_youtube

Source: YouTube

This is extremely niche and looking at the number of views and subscribers, actually quite successful.

So you’ve found a niche you’re passionate about, now what? There are a few more things to consider when choosing a niche for affiliate marketing.

Is there a way for you to make money in this niche?

Creating videos or writing articles is great, but you have to monetize your content. One way to monetize is to put paid-per-click advertisements on your site. However, when you’re starting out with a small audience, there likely won’t be enough traffic to rely on ads alone.

Your niche has to have something people will buy so you can earn revenue from affiliate commissions. If you’re creating content about video games, you can try selling your own merchandise.

You can use print-on-demand drop shippers such as Printful, but what if there’s a service within your niche that lets you sell merch? For Girlfriend Reviews, Streamlabs would be a perfect fit. Not only are they a software service that enables easy video game streaming, but they also let their users sell their own merch.

streamlabs_merch

Source: Streamlabs

Streamlabs also has an affiliate program, so if you’re a content creator promoting the service, your audience can also get into the business and earn you money by signing up through your affiliate link.

Is it a topic you can create enough content for?

Posting a couple of blog posts or videos is not going to make you an authority within your niche. You need volume, and this is critical both for search engine optimization (SEO) and for your audience to see you as an expert.

While the topics you cover should be narrow, you still want to grow your audience. The larger the audience is, the more you’ll make through affiliate marketing.

Making sense of cents is a blog about saving money. The author, Michelle, gives tips about products and services and offers financial advice.

making_sense_of_cents_blog

Source: Making Sense of Cents

Michelle has a huge following. Her blog has tons of affiliate offers that make, according to her, $100,000 in passive income each month. She wasn’t always making this much money, and neither will you when you’re starting out. What helped her get to where she is now, is religiously putting out helpful content that she enjoys writing.

Is there an audience for your content?

When you’re starting affiliate marketing, your articles and videos need to be viewed by someone. Knowing how many potential viewers you could have requires doing some keyword research.

This also lets you find popular search terms within your niche. One tool for keyword research is Ahrefs. Let’s see what it says about video game reviews:

ahrefs_videogame_reviews

Source: Ahrefs

The first thing we see is the Keyword difficulty. This is an indicator of how tough the competition for that keyword is, and how difficult it will be to rank in the top position.

As a rule of thumb, aim for a keyword difficulty of 1-25. It’s a range in which you won’t have to struggle to be visible on Google.

Next, we see the volume of searches per month. The higher the number, the more popular the search term.

Try finding a keyword that has between 1-10K monthly search volume, this is a good range where your keyword will be popular enough that people are looking for it, but not too competitive or obscure.

You can also use ubersuggest, Google keyword planner, or Google trends to research keywords.

Step 2: Search for and join affiliate programs

Make sure you join affiliate programs within your niche. This step is critical to making sure you can monetize your content.

Some things to consider when looking for affiliate partners:

  • Commission percentage – how much are you going to make from each sale?
  • Recurring commissions – can you earn commissions from repeat customers?
  • Geolocation the affiliate company operates in – does it match your audience’s location? Some programs have specific terms and conditions that vary from country to country.
  • How do you get paid – is it PayPal (one of the most common payment tools) or something else, like cash to your bank, or credit on a store or website?
  • How often you’re paid – weekly, monthly, etc.?
  • Company reputation – is your audience going to trust this company?
  • Competition – are there lots of other content creators with similar offers?
  • Promotional materials – what resources do they offer to help you promote their products or services?

Let’s look at some affiliate marketing examples. Say you’re writing a blog about all things ecommerce. During your research you found 2 affiliate programs:

First, let’s look at Printful’s affiliate program. We make it easy to start creating content and sharing our products and services with your audience.

Signing up is easy and free, and we have plenty of promotional material for you to use. You also earn a 10% commission on all sales for 9 months once a customer signs up through your affiliate link.

printful_affiliate_program

Next, look into iHerb’s affiliate program and see what they’re offering their affiliates and if it might be a good fit for your ecommerce blog.

iherb_affiliate_program

Source: iHerb

Their affiliate program also offers marketing materials such as coupons and promotional banners. They have a global presence, a huge variety of products, and offer a 5% commission on sales.

Each affiliate program will have different benefits, so find the one that best suits you and your audience.

Step 3: Start a website

Now it’s time to actually build the website and put your knowledge into action. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Create a website. You can do it from scratch if you know how to code, or use a website builder such as WordPress or Wix to create one with a ready-made theme.
wordpress

Source: WordPress

  • Next, purchase a domain name and hosting services. SiteGround offers an affordable one-year plan. Connect your domain to WordPress or Wix and your website will be live on the internet. Remember to renew the domain once it expires
siteground_hosting

Source: SiteGround

  • You’ll also want to set up a business email and write an About us page so customers can contact you if they have any questions.

Your website doesn’t have to be perfect right from the start, but it should look finished and professional. It’s better to have something ready to go than spend too much time on small details.

Step 4: Create engaging content

Audiences crave fresh and exciting content. If you’re going to start affiliate marketing, here are a few content suggestions:

  • Product reviews

A Printful affiliate could create content that reviews Printful (or print-on-demand) products or services. Take a look at Storehacks’ Printful review:

storehacks_printful_review

Source: StoreHacks

Reviews help your audience make a buying decision. So don’t hesitate to go in-depth and share details about the product or service you’re reviewing. Include your affiliate link in the review so if your audience does decide to buy what’s being reviewed, you earn a commission.

You do need to legally disclose that you have an affiliate offer in your content. A simple “This is an affiliate offer” will suffice.

  • Addressing common problems, questions, or concerns relevant to your audience.

This requires some research, but a common topic will be comparing two or more similar products or services. Another topic would be a how-to guide for a product, especially if it’s a complicated one

If you need help finding some common questions about a product, but can’t find it in the product FAQ’s, you can always check Quora. This is where people post questions about all sorts of topics (but don’t use Quora to promote your affiliate link, it’s against their terms of service).

For example, if your niche is about plants or indoor gardening, this is how you could check Quora for topic ideas:

quora_basil_plants

Source: Quora

Here we can see someone looking for a solution to keep their basil plants alive. You can also use this to research new information when creating content.

If you’re more into creating something that’s beneficial in the long run, then the next type of content  is perfect for you:

  • Evergreen content

This is general purpose content that never goes out of date. If you’re in the plants/gardening niche, think about topics like how to grow healthy spice plants or best indoor city apartment plants.

quora_best_indoor_plants

Source: Quora

The important takeaway about evergreen content is that you need to do proper keyword research and optimize your posts for search engines. Since evergreen content tends to be broader, know that there will be competition against other content creators.

Step 5: Promote your content and offers

Now it’s time for the step that will actually start earning you money. Once you’ve created content and signed up for affiliate programs, you can start sending the offers to your audience.

There are a few ways to promote your affiliate content to your audience:

  • Link to affiliate offers

This is probably the easiest way. Include a link to the offer within the blog post or video. Make sure to change the anchor text of your link to something easy to read.

Here’s an example of what that looks like in an ecommerce newsletter email:

Printful is a great print-on-demand service that integrates with Shopify (if you sign up with this link, we’ll earn some money). If you already have a Shopify store, connect it to Printful in just 4 steps and start earning side income today!

From that example, the first link integrates with Shopify is the affiliate offer.

You can also link to affiliate offers from banners on your website. Printful’s affiliate dashboard has promo materials and banners for you to download.

printful_affiliate_banners

  • Referral programs and discount offers

These are discounts only available through a special promo code that you share with your audience. They save money and you earn some. If you’re promoting these types of offers, let your audience know they can only get the discount if they use your unique coupon code. Otherwise, the special offer won’t work.

CXL_referral_promo

Source: CXL Institute

You can also promote discounts the affiliate program company is offering. For example, if you’re a Printful affiliate, you could promote some of our campaigns such as free Digitization Week (digitization is normally $6.50).

printful_free_digitization_offer

Subscribe to your affiliate partners’ newsletters to get notifications about their promotions.

Start affiliate marketing today

Given how popular online content is, there’s a good chance you can find a program that fits your niche.

I hope this article has given you some inspiration to start affiliate marketing. You’re also welcome to join Printful’s affiliate program. If you have any questions or want to share some tips about your experiences with affiliate programs, post in the comments below!

Connecting Your Shopify Store to Printful in 4 Simple Steps

Connecting Your Shopify Store to Printful in 4 Simple Steps

Starting an ecommerce store has never been easier. Not only are people buying things online more than ever before, but there are also countless tools to help you grow your online business.  

If you’re looking to sell printed merchandise, one of the best ways to get started is by using print-on-demand dropshipping. That’s what Printful does – we take care of all of the production, packaging, and shipping (with no order minimums). And you’re free to focus on making your business the best it can be!

To use Printful, you’ll need to connect your store to an ecommerce platform. Printful integrates with a bunch of platforms, and Shopify is one of the best, most intuitive options. In fact, thousands of merchants use Shopify every day to power their businesses.

By connecting your Shopify store to Printful, here’s just some of what you’ll get:

  • No upfront costs – you won’t have to worry about investing in costly inventory
  • Automatic order fulfillment – you never have to process an order manually again!
  • Customized branding – we make it look like you sent it out

This blog will take you through the steps of connecting your Shopify store to Printful. Let’s get to it!

How to set up your Shopify store

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How to connect your Shopify store to Printful

Step 1. Create your Printful account (it’s free!)

This is super easy and only takes a few minutes. Just click Sign Up from Printful’s homepage and you’ll be taken here:printful_signup_page

All you need is your name, email, and a password and you’re ready for the next step.

Step 2. Install the Printful app on Shopify

Log in to your Shopify account and go to the Apps menu on the left-hand side of the dashboard. Then click Visit the Shopify App Store.

shopify app store dashboard

Source: Shopify

When you’re here, search for Printful. You’ll find our app listed first under Orders and shipping.

shopify printful app search

Source: Shopify

Click on the Printful app.

shopify add printful app

Source: Shopify

Next click Add app and confirm the installation.

shopify install printful app

Source: Shopify

Click Install app and you’re ready for the next part!

Step 3. Connect your store

After you install the app, you’ll be asked to log into both your Shopify and Printful accounts. Just follow the steps and connect the two together.

connect printful and shopify stores

Step 4. Add your products

Go to Printful and under Stores in your Dashboard, go to your store that you just connected. Click Add product; this will take you to Printful’s push generator where you can choose what products to sell.

printful dashboard store

A variant is a certain type of product that can be sold. For example, if you have a t-shirt that’s available in different sizes, each size will be a different variant.

You’re free to use the clipart and default text generator Printful offers, but if you want to get more creative, you can use your own designs for creating merchandise. While the most popular tool for this is Photoshop, there are plenty of free graphic design alternatives, too.

Once you have an image you want to place on a product, you can just import it by clicking upload file and it’ll appear on the mockup where you can adjust it further, if necessary.

printful mockup generator image upload

Finally, you’ll want to add a product description. Printful products come with a standard product description, but you’re free to change it however you wish.

Use this opportunity to showcase your brand voice and let customers know what kind of experience they’ll have if they purchase your product

Printful also lets you set your own retail price, so you can change your margins depending on what works best for your ecommerce store.

Once you’ve finished adding your products, they’ll be visible in your Shopify store. You can click View in Shopify to see the product.

printful shirt in shopify

Source: Shopify

If you go back to (or just refresh) your store page within Printful dashboard, the product will appear synced.

printful synced shirt

For every order that’s made in your store, that is also configured in Printful, an automatic order will be made. You don’t have to worry about it!

Sit back and enjoy

So give it a try, and set up your Shopify store! You’re free to play around and experiment with products as much as you want. One thing you’ll need to do before you can actually start selling is adding a billing method. After you’ve done that, you’re ready to make your first sale!

Do you have any more questions we didn’t answer? Let us know in the comments section, and we’ll be sure to address them!

This article was originally published in April 2014; it has since been updated.

Finding Your Niche in 4 Steps: Turn Passion Into Profit

Finding Your Niche in 4 Steps: Turn Passion Into Profit

Succeeding in ecommerce can be tough, but super rewarding. If you’re in business, you already know how many hours it takes to finally make a product you’re proud of. The next step is selling it, but how do you figure out to whom?

Even if your brand offers something as popular as t-shirts, your products aren’t going to appeal to everyone. That’s totally fine because you’d have a lot of competition and that makes it incredibly difficult to find customers. What you’re really looking for is a specific group of people interested in your product—this is your niche.

Most people already have a niche, they just don’t know what it is. If you’ve ever wondered how to find your niche and succeed in it, this article is for you.

There are 4 steps you’ll have to take:

  1. Identify your areas of expertise
  2. Solve your customers’ problem
  3. Research the market
  4. Promote your product

Let’s jump right in!

Step 1: Identify your areas of expertise

You need to define 3 things to find your niche:

  • Strengths – what you’re good at doing
  • Interests – what you’re curious about
  • Weaknesses – what you need to improve

Your niche is a combination of the three. Let me explain how it all comes together.

Strength

One great example is Iconspeak, a brand selling t-shirts printed with colorful icons. The founders, Georg and Florian, loved travelling—it was definitely a strength of theirs. They came up with the idea for Iconspeak by complete accident though.

They had a ton of experience of traveling through the Vietnamese countryside. Going by motorbike, they’d often have to stop in some remote village and ask for repairs. How did they communicate with the locals who didn’t speak English when there was no Google translate around? They used something universal that everyone understands – pictures!

iconspeak cover photo

Source: Iconspeak

On their journey, they discovered a need most travelers are familiar with: an easy way to communicate. It was the unique circumstances they experienced in their travels that mattered. Many people can travel around the world, but very few will end up in remote villages asking for repairs using drawings.

Your strength should be unique to you, so think back to experiences that no one else can talk about the same way. That’s where you’ll find your biggest strengths.

Maybe you only have one, maybe you have a few. To narrow it down you’ll also need to factor in your interests.

Interests

Georg and Florian were far from professionals in visual communication, but they were persistent. Their interest was figuring out the best method of expressing their problems to locals who didn’t speak English. They quickly figured out that putting the drawings on a t-shirt solved this problem.

They thought of the idea for Iconspeak on the trip, but it took a couple of years for them to take the plunge and bring it to life.

Your niche will stem from a problem you’re trying to solve. It’s unlikely that your first attempt at solving the problem will be perfect, so your next step will be to iron out its kinks.

Weakness

Iconspeak’s weakness at this point was actually marketing their product. They spent a lot of time pitching their brand to publications and getting rejected. Instead of giving up, they became very persistent. It paid off and they started making sales.

Their example is both lucky and smart. They didn’t know their mechanical troubles in Vietnam would lead to a brilliant t-shirt idea, but they did realize that with enough hard work they could turn it into a real business.

So think about the life experiences you’ve had and what you’ve learned from your hobbies or travels. Most likely you’ve had a solution to problems that others have experienced as well. This will be the next step to finding your niche in business.

Step 2: Solve your audience’s problem

The next step is finding a niche product and turning your concept into something that solves a problem. But how do you actually do that? You’ll need a solution that specifically addresses your audience.

Take for example StomaStoma, a brand started by Nick and Darlene Abrams, after their son Owen was born premature and needing both a breathing tube and feeding tube.

stomastoma abrams family

Source: StomaStoma

Initially, they designed t-shirts for themselves, friends, and family to help support their son. After Owen got out of the hospital, they designed shirts for other kids who are on the journey of getting better.

Part of owning your niche will mean reaching out to others. The Abrams were at first solving a problem for themselves, but quickly realized that others were experiencing it as well.

Their products tell an engaging story and help their customers connect with each other.

Nick’s designs are eye-catching tell a story of kids and families that are on a similar journey as the Abrams. But most importantly, StomaStoma products help make the everyday life of these families brighter by focusing on the good and positive.

Coming together in support of a medically fragile child is the problem StomaStoma solved. It was the emotional benefit to wearing the t-shirt that made them a hit.

How do you know your solution is the best one out there, though? Maybe someone else has come up with a similar concept and is trying to address the same problems as you are.

Now the third step comes into play. It’s time to do your research.

Step 3: Research the market

Before dipping your toes in a new market, it’s critical to know what’s going on with it. You might be unaware of a competitor that potential customers are already interested in.

Some competition is okay, as it gives you room to be innovative. It also means there’s money to be made in this niche. On the other hand, a market full of competitors is probably not where you want to be.

The popularity of your niche is also important. There should be enough people interested in your product, but how do you measure overall interest? There are two things you need to consider when estimating the market potential for your product: online search volume and your competitive advantage.

Online search volume

Knowing how often people search for information related to your niche is a good way to gauge general interest for it. Use Google to identify the local (or global) trends among online shoppers. This will help you find a gap in the market for your product.

The actual search term (keyword) should be related to your niche. A broad keyword or product, such as burgers, will have a high search volume and competition.

Use tools like Ahrefs to find the data behind Google searches for burgers in the United States. You can also play around with free tools like Answer the Public or Ubersuggest to find this kind of information.

ahrefs burgers

Source: ahrefs

Right away we see search volume (91K) per month globally, and almost half of it (45k) in the US. How do you know what lies behind burgers search? Is it a burger restaurant, or maybe a recipe?

The keyword difficulty also gives you an idea of how tough it will be to compete against related niche products. Burgers aren’t quite a niche product, but they can become part of a niche, e.g. hamburger phones.

Let’s try searching for vegan burgers instead.

Here we see a smaller search volume, only 6.8K globally and 3.6K in the United States. The keyword difficulty is lower too, so you can make an assumption that vegan burgers are less popular than normal burgers. This could be a burger-related niche that you’d want to explore.

As a broad rule of thumb is to go for a 1K to 10K monthly keyword search volume. This won’t always be the case though.

If your keyword search volume is low, it doesn’t necessarily mean the niche doesn’t exist or that it isn’t popular. It could be because the keywords are language-specific, and not English, for example.

Search volume will also be low if you’re the first to explore that specific niche. If the product doesn’t exist people don’t know to search for it. Use this to your advantage as you continue to grow— the niche’s increased popularity over time means the search volume will increase.

Everything I’ve mentioned about online search volume is part of a broader topic called SEO (search engine optimization). I won’t go into further detail for the time being, but if you’d like more tips on how to rank in Google, be sure to check out our blog.

Beating the competitors

If you’re a new player on the market, you’re already behind the established brands in your niche. To get ahead of them, you’ll need to figure out your competitive advantage—the thing that makes your product stand out from the rest.

It might be product quality, it could also be customer service or the number of products you offer—whatever it is that customers in your niche care about the most.

If you don’t have the luxury of being the first in your niche, you need to give people a reason to choose you. Take notes from your favorite brands, what do they offer that no one else does? Why do you choose them over the competition?

No matter what it is, a good brand will focus on one specific aspect of their business and do that better than anyone else.

Step 4: Promote your Product

Practice makes perfect. You can do all the theorizing in the world, but unless you actually do something with your product, it’ll be tough to earn any money.

Promotion can help you find your niche by getting insight from your customers. When starting out, the first reviews matter the most—they’re an important source of feedback and social proof. Here are ways you can get them:

  • Sharing on free channels
  • Creating ads on Facebook or on Google
  • Writing a blog
  • Make an email list
  • Using influencers

Free Channels

Ask your friends and family to try out the product and give feedback. They’ll be honest and can provide constructive criticism, and maybe if they really love it, they’ll recommend it to their own friends.

Forums or message boards can also be helpful. Find one that specializes in your niche and see what like-minded people have to say. You’re going to reach a broader audience and gain better insight into your niche product.

Paid advertising

Thanks to Facebook and Google, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get the word out about your product.

If you have a Facebook page, you can create custom ads for your business and target audiences specific to your niche based on their age, gender, hobbies & interests, and many other factors. You can read about how to advertise using Facebook ads to learn more.

Google ads is another powerful tool to add to your arsenal. These sponsored ads appear at the top of Google search results and are noted with the ad label.

Here are the main differences between advertising on Facebook and Google:

facebook vs google ads

Source: SiteKitty Digital

Research and see where your audience is more likely to be. If they’re using search engines to find what they’re looking for, then Google makes sense. If they spend most of their time on social media, then Facebook is what you should use.

Blog

A blog is another great way to drive traffic to your website. Writing about clever or useful ways to use your product is interesting for readers. You can also make videos or tutorials for new customers. This is an opportunity to showcase your own expertise in the product field and increase the credibility of your brand by giving customers helpful, actionable advice.

Email

Email marketing is the industry standard for reaching out to a growing customer base. You can use it for sharing product promos, blog posts, and any special deals you might be running. Klaviyo is good for when you’re just starting out. Signup is free and the service is easy to use—automating email campaigns will save you tons of time, as well.

klaviyo features

Source: Klaviyo

Influencing

As a budding ecommerce business, you should start by reaching out to blogs or micro influencers to promote your brand. They don’t have to be exactly within your niche but should be related. For example, your niche might be incredibly specific (such as drawing caricatures) but still, fall within a broader interest range (art and portrait drawing).

You can offer a free sample to the authors of these websites in exchange for writing content about you. Often they’ll be happy to have new and exciting content to write about; and if they do charge you, then offering them a sample might get you a discount.

The key takeaway from this step is to promote as much as you can through relevant channels. Your product isn’t going to be perfect the first time you launch it, and that’s totally OK.

Grow your niche

I hope these 4 steps will help you turn that idea in your head into a business. You might not be the only one who’s wished for a product that solves a particular problem, but you could be the first to create and sell it.

So start brainstorming today, because it’s never too late to launch an online store. Be brave, take a risk and see where your passion leads you, it just might become the next big thing!

If you’ve already found your niche and would like to share the story, please do so in the comments, I’d love to hear about it!

PrestaShop + Printful: What It Is and How to Start

PrestaShop + Printful: What It Is and How to Start

For those of you who don’t know, Printful integrates with PrestaShop!

This pairing is fantastic for people who want to use a free platform specifically designed for ecommerce. It’s also great for those who want to sell in different languages, as PrestaShop works in over 75 different ones. Or maybe you already have a PrestaShop store and want to expand your offering with a huge variety of products. Whatever the reason, it’s possible to make it happen with Printful.

Whether this is the first time you’ve heard of PrestaShop, or you’re a PrestaPro, we’re here to help you. This blog explains what PrestaShop is, if it’s right for you, how to set up the Printful + PrestaShop integration, and tips on making your first sale.

What is PrestaShop

Let’s start with the basics for those who have never even heard of PrestaShop before. PrestaShop is a powerful, free, open-source ecommerce platform. It’s comparable to WordPress, but focused solely on ecommerce, rather than blogs.

PrestaShop currently hosts around 250,000 active stores, with most of these in Europe. In fact, it’s the #1 ecommerce platform in Spain, France, and Poland.

Why?

PrestaShop_Poland

Source: Bultwith.com

PrestaShop_France

Source: Bultwith.com

PrestaShop_Spain

Source: Bultwith.com

PrestaShop has one major advantage in the European market: their abundance of languages. A merchant can sell to anyone in any language, which is a great perk when selling in Europe.

Additionally, PrestaShop offers two different options when creating your online store:

  1. PrestaShop Ready – their paid, hosted, ready to use version
  2. PrestaShop Download – their open source, self-hosted, free option

Currently, Printful only integrates with PrestaShop Download, so we’ll focus on this one for the purposes of this blog.

Why use PrestaShop?

Now that we’ve gone over what PrestaShop is, let’s look at why to use it, and why it may be right for you.

It has a strong community

PrestaShop has a strong, thriving following who all look out for each other. Not only are there 250,000 active stores, but there’s also a community of over one million users, such as add-on developers, who all love PrestaShop. You can find answers to all your PrestaShop questions in their forums, or join their events.

It’s customizable

As PrestaShop is an open-source platform, community members can create add-ons and themes. PrestaShop has more than 3,000 apps you can use to enhance your store, from SEO to cart abandonment to email marketing, and over 2,000 themes to customize your store however you want.

With all the customizability, PrestaShop can be a bit overwhelming for beginners. However, with the proper drive and help from the community, this can be overcome easily.

It’s available in over 75 languages

PrestaShop prides itself in the number of languages available, and 75 is no small feat. If you’re planning to sell in multiple languages, like in an emerging European market, this is a huge plus.

It’s free

For many first-time store owners, this is the biggest selling point. The one caveat here is that you will have to pay for your own hosting, which starts at $3.95 per month, using a service like SiteGround.

So, if you want a free, customizable ecommerce platform and don’t mind the complexity, then PrestaShop might just be the choice for you.

How to connect and create products with Printful + PrestaShop

We’ve made a handy video tutorial to run you through this, so we’ll only go over the basic steps here.

[embedded content]

1. Create your Printful and PrestaShop accounts

To sign up to Printful, go to our homepage and click Start selling. Printful is free to start, and has no monthly fees either, meaning you only pay when you make a sale!

To download PrestaShop, go to their sign-up page. Make sure you select the “custom made” store option.

2. Connect your accounts

Now that you have a Printful account and PrestaShop store, it’s time to connect them. To do this create and copy the API key from PrestaShop and submit it to Printful. To do that, you need to follow the steps on our integration page.

PrestaShop_Connect

3. Add your shipping options

Printful has flat shipping rates that we charge you depending on the product. For example, we charge $5 per t-shirt, so that’s what you charge on your store. Then when the order comes to Printful, we will charge you no more than $5 for shipping the shirt.

We suggest you use a similar pricing model for your own shipping, labeling each “carrier” as a different product. I would recommend watching the video tutorial to understand how to do this.

PrestaShop_Shipping

4. Design and add your products

Once your accounts are connected, you need to create some products to sell. To start, you need to create a design.

Head over the Printful Mockup Generator, and either create or upload your design there, on one of our 160+ products. When you finish creating your design, click “generate files,” and pick the mockups you want for your store as well as the print files (we’ll use them later) and save them.

Printful_Mockups

Looking for design ideas? Check out our guide to creating a design!

Then, head to your PrestaShop store and go to Catalogs → Products → New Product. Here you can add all the details of your product, create a product description, and add the mockups you created as product photos. You can also take your own photos and upload them as well if you want. Then, choose a price, set up taxes, and save.

PrestaShop_Products

Check out this blog post on how to write awesome product descriptions to make your listing as enticing as possible.

Once you’ve added a product to PrestaShop, you need to sync with Printful so we know what to print. Go back to your Printful Dashboard → Stores and choose your PrestaShop store. There you can sync your product by adding the print files you saved earlier.

Printful_Sync

And that’s it! Your store is connected and you have a product ready to sell.

How to make your first sale on PrestaShop

Now that you have a store ready to go, it’s time to get traffic and make sales. To help you make your first sales, here some tricks out there to jumpstart your store.

Ask friends and family

People you know are a great resource when starting your online store because they want to see you succeed and they’re willing to help you.

The first and most obvious way they can help is by buying one of your products. However, to get the most of this, you should ask them for a review. 90% of customers are influenced by reviews before they make a purchase, so finding ways to get more product reviews is important.

By getting your friends and family to rate your product, make you look much more credible and make your store more appealing to other customers.

Friends and family can also use their network to get you sales. Having customers recommend your site through word of mouth is another fantastic way to drive traffic.

Join niche interest groups

There are tons of different Subreddits and Facebook groups that you can target, like RunningWithDogs or WeRoastCoffee. People in these groups have already shown that they are interested in the topic that your store is about, so it is the perfect group of people to get your products in front of. However, make sure you always check the rules of any group that you join and follow them.

Work with influencer marketing

Influencers, especially on Instagram, are becoming increasingly popular. To put your brand in front of your target audience, find influencers within your niche. Similar to the other niche interest groups, the influencer’s followers are also interested in your product.

There is also a level of trust between an influencer and their followers, meaning that followers are more likely to buy what the influencer recommends, adding credibility o your store.

Once you have found an influencer that interests you, there are many ways you can encourage them to promote your product. You can:

  1. Send them free samples of your products
  2. Give their followers a discount or promo code
  3. Give them a cut of the sales from this promo

What are you waiting for?

So those are the basics of selling on PrestaShop. Of course, there is much more you can do, from adding modules to changing themes to marketing, there is a world of possibility ahead of you. Try things out, experiment and have fun!

If you are keen on learning more right now, here are a few other blog posts that you might be interested in.

So what do you think about PrestaShop? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

11 Things to Look for in Every Print-On-Demand Company

11 Things to Look for in Every Print-On-Demand Company

Getting into print-on-demand (POD) means choosing a print partner that best fits your ecommerce business. While there are many in the market, the best ones all share the same traits. If you’ve wanted to know the top 11 things to look for in every POD company, then keep reading.

In this article, I’ll go over the main factors that you should look for in a reliable print partner to ensure that your online store has quality products and services. This will keep you, and your customers, happy.

1. Product Range

Many brands that launch a merchandise line start off with t-shirts. Put a logo on a t-shirt and it has universal appeal to fans of that brand. What do you do when your brand grows past t-shirts, though?

Expanding your merchandise to include more niche products, such as swimwear, babywear, or even home & living accessories can be a great way to grow your brand. Customer who bought and loved your t-shirt might also want a mug or other accessory.

This only works if your print provider offers all of them. So choose carefully when starting out and see which companies have as broad of a product range as possible, while still offering high-quality products. You want your customers to be as happy with a new mug they order as they are with the t-shirt they bought.

2. Pricing Model

One of the biggest appeals of POD is that you don’t have to deal with or pay any upfront costs for inventory.

So besides the cost of producing a t-shirt, you do have to be aware of any costs of actually using the print service itself. Some companies charge a monthly fee, and that can really impact your profits, especially when you’re starting out and sales might be low. Others might charge a percentage of your final sales prices—so the higher your prices, the more the print company makes.

Ideally, you want to deal with drop shippers who only charge you a flat amount for the actual cost of the order. This keeps things simple and avoids continuous, additional charges. When comparing options, find out what you get for the cost. A more expensive print company might have better quality products, or offer additional services, such as branding (more about that later).

office_space

3. Good Reviews and Social Proof

Most people, 90% of them in fact, looked at online reviews before choosing to do business with a company. When searching for a printing partner, you should do the same.

The first place to look is the company’s own website, and many are happy to share their reviews with potential customers. You can usually browse through many reviews and see what is the general consensus among customers.

Maybe they’re satisfied with the product but experience one particular issue, such as a t-shirt running a size too small or too large. Customers might also mention competitors, and praise how certain aspects of one brand are better than another.

The number of reviews is also important. A 4.5 out of 5-star average from 2000+ reviews is far more impressive than a 5 out of 5 from just 20 reviews. It’s easy for a new brand to ask friends or family to leave good reviews, so be wary.

Also, look for reviews in more than one place. A Facebook page is another good source of reviews or recommendations, as most companies will also have a social media presence. App listings (such as on Shopify) can be good sources of feedback, too.

Lastly, social proof is a good indicator of how good a print company is. The more people publicly endorse a POD brand, the more trustworthy they appear to be.

4. Returns Handling

Mistakes sometimes happen and orders get returned. There can be many reasons why—from the customer being unhappy with the product, to an error in production, or even a problem by the shipping service.

How a print company handles these issues will tell you a lot about them. Make sure you do your research thoroughly and know the differences in each company’s policy. This way you’re fully prepared in case a customer does want to return something.

It also might be a good idea to copy the print company’s returns policy into your own store. If an item is returned to the POD facility, your customer will know what to expect.

This keeps things fair for everyone involved.

5. 24/7 Customer Service

Getting into ecommerce and using a POD company responsible for fulfillment means multiple channels of communication; you and your customers, and you and the print company.

Any communication related to helping customers fix problems with their orders will be delayed, and it’s even slower the more spread out everyone is around the world.

The best fix for this is 24/7 customer support. As a store owner, you can rely on the print company to help you with customer issues any time of day. You’ll save a ton of hassle and have happier customers for it.

The quality of customer support is important, too. The support team should be helpful and actually care about solving your problems. It’s also a plus if they’re available by different channels (phone, chat, email, etc.)

By working with a POD service that has 24/7 customer support, you can manage any occurring store errors much faster.

computer_workign

6. Transparency

You want a print partner that’s open with communication and forthcoming about any issues (if they do appear). Sometimes mistakes happen with orders, and then you want customer service reps who help you in the best way possible.

Transparency also includes being open about policy or company changes. Try to see how the print partner informs its own customers about these kinds of things. It also helps to be informed ahead of time of any big changes, this way you have time to react on your end and make the necessary adjustments to your business.

Sending out notifications on multiple platforms helps keep customers up to date. Coordinated email, social media, and website messages make sure everyone gets the new information.

7. Experience

A POD company with years of industry experience has a few things going for it, mainly sustainability and strong partnerships. Let me expand on each one:

Sustainability means that a POD company is at a size where it can maintain long-term growth. It also has a track record of making good business decisions and adapting to changes in the industry. You want a print partner that’s in it for the long term and that you can rely on. Switching POD’s can be risky, since you’re changing almost everything involving the product, production, and shipping.

Years of experience can also lead to better partnerships between POD companies and shipping carriers who offer better rates. A POD company can get lower prices on its stocked products or shipping rates as it grows over the years, and passings these savings on to you as an ecommerce store owner is a good way to beat the competition.

8. Fast Shipping

Nowadays, everyone expects fast shipping. You want to meet basic expectations, so look for a POD with many locations around the world so they can access different regions faster.

As an ecommerce store owner, look at the different shipping methods and speeds offered. Typically, you can choose between two types of shipping rates, flat and live.

For flat rates, you pay a fixed amount to ship anything as long as it doesn’t exceed size or weight limits. Live shipping rates are more dynamic and are calculated in real-time, based on the weight and destination of the order.

In any case, if you want to sell your products globally, you need a print partner that can ship worldwide and offer different methods like standard, express, overnight, etc.

warehouse_shelves

9. Personalization

One of the best ways to make your brand out from among the competition is to add personalization to your products. These are ways to help your brand stand out and be more unique.

Surprisingly, 1 in 4 customers said they would pay more to have a personalized product. If you’re using POD, then you want a print partner that can offer these options.

Some popular add-ons can be sleeve prints on t-shirts, embroidery, or even printed inside labels. Perhaps you’re looking for a white-label POD company so that you can add branding stickers on packages. This makes it look like the products are coming directly from your store, and not from your print partner.

Another useful feature is having the POD company on the returns address (but still keeping your brand name). That way, if the customer does send the package back, you don’t have to deal with the returns.

10. Growth

A print partner that’s focused on growing and adding new products and features helps your brand grow alongside them. Fashion trends are always expanding, and a POD company that’s on top of the new, hit items means your brand can capitalize on them, too.

Location expansion is important too. Plenty of POD companies have locations in the United States, but what about Europe, Asia, or Australia? Each market has growing ecommerce sectors, and POD is going to be a portion of that.

11. Quality

Finally, let’s mention print quality. A good POD company will pride themselves on the quality of the printing they do. After all, it’s what their entire business is about. This means using ink and thread (in the case of embroidery or cut & sew products) that will last longer and look good.

Don’t just stop at printing though, investigate what kind of equipment they use. Print companies that work hard to stay ahead of the curve will constantly be investing in new equipment, ensuring they can provide the best products.

The products printed on should be of high quality too. There’s no point in having fancy equipment and expensive ink if the t-shirt it’s printed on is going to fall apart after a few washes. You can test the quality of products and the print yourself by making a sample order.

Have you found your print-on-demand company?

Choosing the best POD partner for your ecommerce store will require you to do some homework, so use these tips as a study guide to help you make the best possible decision.

To summarize, a quality print partner will give your brand:

  • A lower rate of returns
  • Better brand reputation
  • Peace of mind

Whoever you end up choosing, they should fit your brand while also leaving room for your store to grow. You might start by only selling to friends and family in your hometown, but you could one day be a brand recognized all over the world.

If you have any other tips or suggestions about what to look for in a POD company, please share them in the comments!