Amazon Merch – 3 Month Review – Passive Income

As per my Etsy 3 month review, life has been very hectic and I haven’t had any time to do anything with Amazon, so I’ve just left it alone for well over a month.

See my Amazon 2 month review here if you haven’t already. Something I have noticed is that MerchInformer have added a lot of new features which look promising, including a t-shirt designer, which is much needed after MerchDesigner became a paid service. I’m looking forward to checking that and other features out when I have time.  I’ll probably do a review in due course. Again, if you’re interested in MI and if you decide to buy it for yourself, use code PASSIVEOWL to get 20% off.

As far as unconscious progress on Amazon – I got upgraded to tier 500, which means that I’m allowed to upload 500 products in total – 50 each day. Of course, I uploaded nothing because I’ve just been ridiculously busy.

In total, during April I made 59 sales which equates to $277.36 profit (roughly £203.92). This is a reduction compared to last month. I think it’s a reduction partially due to one of my best sellers getting 2x 1 star reviews. One customer wasn’t happy with the sizing (not something I can control since Amazon provide the product), and the other had a suggestion for an improvement of the design – decided to rate it 1 star for no other reason than that. I don’t think they even bought it, which seems ridiculously unfair and I do wonder if it’s one of the competition trying to get rid of me. The shirt has many other positive reviews which makes it average at about 3 stars. I’ve seen the sales drop significantly as a result and the ranking has plummeted. I’ve also experienced a reduction in my number of uploads because some of them have been removed as a result of the 90 day rule after failing to sell.

The good news is that 11 shirts have started selling which previously hadn’t, some of which have sold 5+ times, which seems promising for the future.

Again, I just need to actually work on Amazon and upload things in the coming months. May is pretty much a write off due to how busy I am, but June onwards I will certainly be working harder at getting some uploads on there. Overall though, it’s nice to make almost $300 totally passively from Amazon while I’ve been busy with real life.

More to come. Check out the Passive Owls FB group and YouTube while you wait.

Designing Without Designs Skills (Part 2)

How to make passive income on Redbubble, Merch by Amazon, or any Print On Demand site by using MerchDesigner – no design skills required!

I also celebrated surpassing 200 subscribers on YouTube when I posted part 1. Checked today, 5 days later, and I’m already up to 250! I’ve also been getting some lovely comments recently which really encourage me to keep going. Managing the Facebook group, updating the blog, uploading new YouTube videos all take a lot of time and effort, but when I check my notifications and see loads of nice comments, it’s really motivating.

 

Etsy – 1 Month Review – Passive Income

As I mentioned earlier, my plan to double up on my passive income this year involves diversifying my income streams by starting an Etsy store. This is my 1 month report on Etsy.

First of all, the juicy results for February 2018:

What an amazing first month! I can see Etsy having a significant impact on my passive income as I learn how to use it to its full potential. Now, this is revenue, of course, so let me elaborate on my strategy before I give you a further breakdown.

How did I do it?

It’s ridiculously simple.

  1. I signed up for Etsy
  2. I signed up for Printful

Printful is the only print on demand/dropshipping site to be partnered with Etsy, and I have to say it’s an absolute pleasure to use. It’s also FREE, which was a huge selling point for me because I didn’t know whether I’d make any sales at all during my first month on Etsy and therefore I didn’t want to be paying the monthly subscription cost associated with other POD sites.

What’s the catch with Printful? Well, the only one that I could find is that the cost price of products isn’t the cheapest out there, but I believe for our purposes it’s the best.

The main reason is that it saves you a ridiculous amount of time. When you list your products on Printful, it automatically integrates them in all colours, sizes and prices to Etsy. It also sets the tags, shipping options, and provides mockups for your designs. Basically, it does absolutely everything for you in just a few clicks. These things would take hours to sort out on Etsy manually, but on Printful, you just set how much profit you want to make and you’re good to go.

When you get an order on Etsy, it’s automatically picked up by Printful without you doing anything. They process it and send it out to the customer white label (without any indication it’s from Printful) and they even use your pricing rather than the cost price on the invoice.

I thought it would be too good to be true and I’d have to get involved once the order was shipped, but no. It’s ridiculously passive because they even update your Etsy and mark the item as shipped, so you truly don’t have to do anything.

You can pay for all sorts of fancy extras like custom tags in the clothing, custom packaging, etc. I didn’t do that at this stage and I’ll explain why in a moment. One thing they do offer you for free is a custom message to put on the invoice, which I thought was a nice touch.

My PROFIT from the first month on Printful

As you can see, my  revenue was $252.12, but my profit was $142.27, so despite the fact that Printful isn’t the cheapest print on demand company – AND I’m pricing at rock bottom to attract customers – the opportunity to make huge profit is still there. I found it to be the most hands off out of everything I researched for my first month on Etsy.

There are a large range of products available on Printful, so it’s really up to you which you choose and how much it costs you. As I said, they’re not the cheapest, but the convenience factor does it for me, and since you set your own profit margin, you can recuperate the costs immediately if you wished. I’m making on average $10 per item sold, which seems insane if you’re used to selling on Redbubble or Merch by Amazon.

Moving on then, why didn’t I go for any fancy extras at this stage?

My Strategy for Etsy – Month 1 (Feb 2018)

As a new seller on Etsy, I felt I should be pricing competitively. When you have no sales and no reviews, you’ve got to have something to attract a customer! This isn’t like Redbubble and Merch by Amazon where there’s a huge company backing your products with guarantees. The customer has to either trust you enough to purchase, or think the product is cheap enough to risk buying from you.

Adding fancy custom labels at this stage seemed superfluous and would increase production cost or retail price, so I left it out. I might add them in at a later stage when I increase prices, but can you believe that $147.27 profit is from pricing at rock bottom? Crazy!

So my strategy was to price low. I could’ve gone lower, of course, but I needed to make some profit to cover my expenses. Expenses? What expenses? Yes, Etsy is expensive.

It’s easy to take for granted the lack of listing fees, transaction fees, and advertising costs on websites like Redbubble.

Etsy Fees

First of all, there’s a fee to list an item, which is $0.20, plus VAT of $0.04. There’s also a transaction fee for each item you sell. My transaction fees were around $0.60 each. If you’re unfortunate enough to live in the UK like me, then you’ll be dealing with conversion fees, which aren’t pretty, and I found myself paying just short of £1 ($1.40) just to get the currency converted, which as far as I’m aware seems to be unavoidable. There’s also advertising costs involved, which deserve their own section.

Etsy Advertising

I have to say, Etsy advertising seems to be amazing. You just go into your settings and turn it on, set a daily limit, and they do the rest. This is literally all I did to attract all my sales this month.

You can set which products you want the site to advertise and which you don’t. Etsy shows the listing to people who are likely to click it, and then you pay per click. I set a daily budget of $5, but most of the time Etsy didn’t actually spend that much. You’re also given access to detailed analytics which helps you understand your customers and their behaviour.

As you can see, I spent $94.22 on Etsy ads in order to achieve $237.59 revenue. In other words, I got $143.37 profit out of it. A worthwhile trade, I would say. I like Etsy advertising because it’s very much ‘set it and forget it’ then watch the sales roll in, which is perfect for passive income.

Etsy Payments

My payment for February is looking healthy:

But we have to take into consideration the costs.

Etsy Bill

My Etsy bill, which is comprised of listing fees, transaction fees, conversion fees, and advertising fees, came in at $130.48

And of course, we have the cost of printing and sending products out to customers, which I’ve already listed above in the Printful section.

I got $147.27 profit from Printful, which means my total profit after all Etsy costs are taken into consideration comes to a whopping $16.79!

This is to be expected, as I’m pricing low to attract customers and I’m relying on Etsy ads for traffic. This is the first stage of a long term Etsy plan. It involves pricing low and getting sales/reviews. Once I’m reputable, I can increase the prices significantly, plus I’ll hopefully be found organically by customers, which will save me paying out for advertising.

Etsy Goals for March 2018

  • Get positive reviews – I have yet to receive any reviews whatsoever and this is a concern of mine. I actually considered reaching out to customers at one point, but was too worried they’d ask for a refund if I reminded them about their purchase so I left it! Printful have produced 17 products on my behalf, which are out in the world somewhere right now hopefully being enjoyed by customers, but who knows! I just have to have faith in the service that Printful will deliver quality products. But if there are any problems, I am fully prepared to offer refunds and apologies to customers. A bad review would be very destructive at this stage. When I get 10 positive reviews, the price is going up on my products.
  • Increase advertising budget – As soon as I get a positive review, I’m going to double up on advertising from $5 per day to $10 per day. If $94 in advertising gets me $140 profit, then $188 in advertsing will get me $280 in profit, right? 😉 We shall see.
  • Add more products and review existing ones – More products will result in more opportunities for customers to purchase. I’ve only got around 20 uploaded right now, so I think a reasonable goal is to double that to 40. I’ll also review existing products and stop funding them with advertising money if they aren’t selling.

Will report back at the end of March and let you know how it goes! In the meantime consider joining the Passive Owls FB group as there will certainly be more Etsy discussion going on in there.

Full Disclosure: Printful is an affiliate link, so if you’ve found my FB group, YouTube, or this blog helpful and want to support me, then I would appreciate it if you signed up via the link.

Etsy for Passive Income

Etsy is another avenue which I’m going to try out this year to generate extra passive income. My passive income success thus far has been hands off in the sense that the Print On Demand websites manage everything for me.

The POD sites I’m accustomed to using all offer to print, package, ship, and most importantly: handle customer service. It’s something which I elaborate on in my first YouTube video when describing how Redbubble works – check it out if you want to know more about the process:

It’s easy with these websites to have a ‘set it and forget it‘ mentality. It’s for that reason why Etsy is a bit scary. It involves doing more work yourself, and therefore accepting more risk, which can easily be taken for granted because POD websites take care of that for you.

However, the extra work provides opportunity for huge profit. Costs are kept down, which means it’s possible to make a hell of a lot more passive income for what is essentially the same product, even if you allow the customer to pay less. Here’s an example:

Redbubble T-Shirt (20% markup)
Customer pays $19.05 – your profit is $2.72

Etsy T-Shirt via fulfillment company
Customer pays $19.05 – your profit is $7.10

You can see that even if you price competitively with Redbubble, you’ll be making a lot more money, so you can afford to lower the price. This is just one example. The t-shirt I selected was one of the cheapest available by one of the most expensive companies, but there are loads of fulfillment companies with various products and prices.

The idea is that you create a listing on Etsy, and then either set the listing to automatically be fulfilled by a dropshipping company, or manually fulfill the order yourself. There are many options available to you.

I’ve gone for the most passive option, which involves using a fulfillment company to automatically collect orders from my Etsy and send them out to the customer as/when I make a sale. This isn’t the cheapest route. There are much cheaper alternatives, but for this project, I value my time more than saving an few extra dollars.

I’ve been on Etsy 3 weeks now and have already made sales amounting to $134.65 revenue (£95.99). Now remember, this is revenue, not profit.

I’ve definitely made a profit, but I don’t know the final figures yet as I’ve got to pay:

  • Product fees
  • Shipping fees
  • Etsy listing fees
  • Manufacturer fees
  • Product advertising fees
  • Currency conversion fees
  • Possibly other things which I’m not even aware of

I also have no idea whether the product that I’m selling is any good because I’ve never used the fulfillment company before, so this could blow up in my face and I may end up having to give out refunds to customers.

I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I can handle that, so please bear with me while I test the waters. I will be giving a more detailed breakdown of how I did this and how you can replicate the success, but first I need time to make sure it’s a good course of action. What I don’t want to do is recommend something and influence people to give it a go if it’s no good. Things are looking promising, though. A full report will follow.

In the meantime, I urge you to focus on Redbubble or a similar POD websites which are free (list available in the description of this video) so the worst case scenario is that you don’t make a sale rather than actually losing money. Check out my YouTube channel or the FB group so you can set yourself up for success, and when you’ve got designs which you know will sell, you’ll be able to see in my follow up post(s) whether doing this would be a good idea for you too.