Francisco Rivera Went From Teaching to Making Six Figures in One Year

Francisco Rivera Went From Teaching to Making Six Figures in One Year

These days, there are so many routes to making money online it can be hard to know where to start. It’s also easy to dismiss many methods as unrealistic or a downright scam.

In today’s Success Story, we’ll meet a relatively new entrepreneur who nearly did just that. Thankfully, after digging a little deeper, Florida-based Francisco Rivera, Frankie in short, took the plunge, trading a career as an online teacher for a very successful print-on-demand Etsy store.

Once this former tutor found his feet in the industry, he achieved some astonishing sales figures in just a single year of business

Fast-forward to 2024, and Frankie, has pulled off what many think is impossible – a near-passive business that he can run from anywhere. Let’s find out how he achieved his dream.

Frankie, It’s Great to Meet You. Could You Begin by Telling Us a Little About Yourself?

“I grew up in Orlando, Florida, but relocated to Texas for over three years and lived with my brother. While I was there, I worked in an Apple store. 

However, in 2020, I decided to move back home to be closer to my niece and nephew, plus my parents were getting older.

On my return to Orlando, my sister persuaded me to join her teaching kids online for a school company. 

I have a degree in music production and originally wanted to be a composer, so I figured I would offer music classes on the site. 

I quickly realized music wasn’t a very popular subject, so I ended up teaching critical thinking and social skills. Many of the kids I taught were on the autistic spectrum, and I had a lot of success using games like Minecraft as teaching tools.

I ended up doing that job for three years, teaching five days per week. It was my first introduction to working online

I was able to control the curriculum, set my own prices, and even did some marketing.”

But You Decided to Branch out and Start Your Own Business?

“Yes. My online classes began dying off, as many of the kids I taught had gone back to school after COVID restrictions eased. 

I had the feeling that my teaching job wasn’t a good long-term prospect, so I began looking for other opportunities.

I always had the goal of working online and being completely independent. Although my job gave me some freedom, I was still bound by my schedule and, to some extent, my location. 

I wanted to be able to create my own hours and not have to hop on calls. Essentially, I wanted an online business that could eventually give me a passive income.”

Francisco Rivera - Success Story

And That Led to Your Discovery of Print on Demand?

“I began researching online business ideas in January 2023. 

I found plenty of inspiration on TikTok, including people who had started dropshipping businesses or become freelance copywriters. It was around this time that I also discovered Print on Demand. 

However, in the beginning, I thought the influencers talking about this business model were trying to sell some kind of scam program. I was very hesitant to get into it, as it seemed too good to be true.”

But You Took the Plunge?

“Yes, I decided that I should give Print on Demand a try, as I was getting desperate. 

I started an Etsy shop while I was still teaching five days per week and signed up for a Printify account. I liked the size of Printify’s Catalog and the premium membership option. 

Overall, I just thought the site looked a lot more professional than the rest, and there were plenty of positive reviews.”

Unlike Many Beginners, You Picked a Very Niche Item to Sell

“I initially did some research on what people were selling on Etsy, and I was discouraged from items like mugs or t-shirts because the market seemed very saturated. In the end, I settled on print-on-demand candles.

As I mentioned a moment ago, I was impressed by the variety of items in Printify’s Catalog, and the candles were a new and interesting offering that not many people knew about. I figured they would make great gifts, and I would be able to get into a relatively untapped market and begin making sales fast.

I believe that fast sales and high volumes are the keys to success in a business like this. 

I know a lot of artists have had great results selling original works on Etsy, but I think gift items work the best as most shoppers on the platform are looking for an item for a special occasion, and they already have their wallets open.”

Francisco Rivera - Success Story

Do You Have Any Etsy Tips for People Looking To Get Started?

“When selling any kind of print-on-demand item, it’s essential to create the right mockups and to optimize your listings on Etsy. 

Pretty pictures are super important, but also pay attention to the details and ensure your customers know exactly what they’re buying.

For example, I’m selling candles, so it’s important that buyers know the exact dimensions of my products to avoid disappointment when they open the package. 

Make sure your descriptions are detailed but concise and always pay attention to the titles and tags of your listings to make sure your items show up in the right searches.

My final piece of advice would be to include words that describe the event a person might be shopping for

So, in my case, I might write a title that says ‘Mother’s Day funny gift candle.’ I’ve used that strategy to help me get found in searches, and it seems to have paid off.”

What Pricing Strategy Do You Recommend?

“When starting out, you won’t have any positive reviews, so the most important thing to concentrate on is getting social proof and ensuring people trust you and your store. 

To that end, it can be a good idea to start out a lot cheaper than your competitors until you’ve made a name for yourself.”

Did You Experience Any Sticking Points Along the Way?

“It’s definitely been a learning experience. I’ve had candles cracking and melting while in the mail, and I’ve had to deal with all kinds of customer service issues. 

Those aren’t issues specific to Print on Demand, but they do highlight the things you have to consider when starting a dropshipping-style business.

I must say, though, that whenever I’ve had an issue, Printify’s customer service team has been quick to respond and has always provided a solution.”

Francisco Rivera - Success Story

How Do You Market Your Items?

Everyone should do social media marketing if they want to promote their products in the best way. I don’t do that at the moment, as I’ve been quite lazy. 

So far, I’ve only used Etsy Ads and have relied on organic traffic from the platform. In my defense, I’ve been working on several other projects, and it’s hard to decide where to spend my time.”

We Hear Your Shop Did Incredibly Well Over the Holiday Season

“Christmas and Q4 were insane, and I made the bulk of my profits during that time. 

I recommend that anyone thinking of starting a shop just go ahead and get started right now. You need to be ready for that holiday surge and make sure you have plenty of products ranking well. 

I was still working as a teacher last Christmas and also performing in a festive musical. It was a busy time, that’s for sure. 

I had a lot of custom orders for personalized items and had to put my prices up to try and stop people from buying so many. 

In the end, the orders kept coming in regardless. I personally wouldn’t have spent that kind of money on a custom candle gift, but hey, if it’s something you like, then that’s great!”

Let’s Talk About Sales Numbers – Our Readers Will Be Impressed

“I don’t know the exact profit I made in my first year, plus I also began selling tote bags in a second Etsy shop. 

However, in total, I did around $450,000 in revenue. After paying for the products, I’d say the profit was still within the six-figure range.”

Francisco Rivera - Success Story

Have You Stopped Working as a Teacher Now?

“I stopped working as a teacher in December 2023 when I realized the potential of this business model. I figured I could do terribly for the bulk of the year and still make a lot of money during the holiday season. 

In the end, I thought to myself, ‘If you can make that much in a year, imagine what would happen if you started a new shop every twelve months.’ 

Once you understand how Print on Demand works, why not replicate your success?”

You Mention Opening Another Etsy Shop. Why Not Just Add New Products to Your Existing One?

“I had to open another shop because, with my candles, I’d gone down the route of one item, multiple niches

I wasn’t able to add the tote bags to that model. When you only offer a single item like a candle, it makes it easy to customize the design for different occasions, niches, and customers. 

In some instances, I only need to change the text and the color. It’s a very quick process.”

What’s Been the Best Thing So Far About Running a POD Business?

“It’s so nice having the flexibility to be able to work from a coffee shop, my couch, or even another country. I certainly wouldn’t go back to a corporate job or work in retail, where I get shouted at by customers.

Also, I now spend way less time maintaining my business and managing orders than I would in a regular job.

Later today, I plan on finishing a few custom orders and heading to Disney World with my friend. I love being able to live my life that way, and I’m obviously very happy with the money I’m making. 

Knowing that people like my designs and want to buy the products I make is also very validating. It’s a huge confidence booster.”

Francisco Rivera - Success Story

Are There Any Downsides to This Business Model?

“It’s important to keep a good work-life balance, as, like any work-from-home job, it’s easy to lose structure and stop connecting with people. You also need to ensure you have a good support system in place and stay motivated in the early stages.”

What Advice Would You Give to Beginners?

The hardest thing is simply getting started. I recommend binging YouTube videos and immersing yourself in the subject, then picking a platform like Etsy or Shopify and getting to it. 

I firmly believe you can learn any digital skill on YouTube. The resources are endless. It’s like a free university. 

If you have a full-time job, start by listing a single product each day, and don’t get too overwhelmed. Be patient and stick to it, as it will take a few months to make your first sale and get your business off the ground. 

Finally, make sure you keep innovating and testing different designs and mockup styles.”

Frankie, It’s Been a Great Chat. Do You Have Any Parting Words?

Stick with it. When your online business takes off, you might be able to replace your income and quit your regular job for good. 

Print on Demand can give you the freedom you’ve been wanting, and I encourage everyone to try it out.”

Make It Happen Today!

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