It’s always fun to hear about a rockstar mom using print on demand to earn thousands of dollars. Yet for many newcomers, success is often defined as something more modest, such as becoming more independent or earning extra money for day-to-day expenses.
Megan Engle has achieved exactly that. She’s developed a profitable print-on-demand business that has given her the freedom to work from home and enjoy quality time with her family.
In this interview, we find out more about Megan’s print-on-demand business. And also how she’s preparing to tackle the upcoming holiday sale season. She offers us some tips for getting the most out of the busy sale season. Let’s find out more…
In This Article...
An store with print on demand
Hi Megan, how did your print-on-demand journey begin?
“I lost my job when I was seven months pregnant, so my husband and I decided that I should wait until our baby was born before looking for work. When my daughter developed several food allergies, I began looking for a way to stay at home to look after her, as I didn’t want to put her into daycare.
It was devastating at the time to lose my job while pregnant, but it’s actually made me happier in the long run. I’m able to be at home with my daughter full time, building a business without relying on anyone else.”
Why did you choose to start a print-on-demand business?
“I used YouTube for most of my research. I realized that print on demand would be the best strategy for a stay-at-home mom or someone who is too busy for regular work hours.
I could do all the fun stuff plus take care of customer service, while someone else handled actually making and sending out the orders.”
Do you have prior experience designing for an online store?
“I have two stores on Etsy. One is a general store where I sell tumblers, drinkware, and lots of other things. The second store is where I tend to niche down a little more. I don’t have any theme for the products themselves, but I have an ideal customer in mind when I create my designs.”
What’s your niche for designs?
“My niche customer is a woman around my age who’s into nature and the whole girl power thing too. I always tell people that it’s essential to target a specific type of customer, and for me, that would be the kind of person you would expect to shop on Etsy.
“I get bored easily, so by targeting a specific type of person and using that as my niche, I’m able to make a wider range of products.”
Megan’s decision to use a specific personality type as the niche for her designs is unusual yet an inspired idea.
In the corporate world, this is known as a “Buyer Persona.” The technique is also called “Avatar Marketing” and can achieve remarkable results if done.
The process of Avatar Marketing begins by describing your ideal customer. You can also give them a name if you like. Let’s use Sam in this example.
- What type of hobbies is Sam interested in?
- What music does Sam listen to?
- Where does Sam work?
- What problems does Sam need to solve?
Once you’ve turned Sam into a realistic ideal customer, you can go on to create products that are custom-built for her. From that day onwards, if you can find customers like Sam, they will buy everything you design.
You don’t need a niche because Sam is the niche.
Preparing for the Holiday Sale Season
Like many online business owners, Megan is now preparing for the year’s busiest period: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas.
Do you have a plan in place for the holiday sale season?
“Last year, I hadn’t been up and running for very long. My design skills weren’t excellent, and I wasn’t using Instagram or any ads at that point either. Despite that, I still made many orders, so I can’t imagine what it must be like if you’re well prepared.
This year, I plan on having a 20-25% sale at my Etsy stores until Christmas. If you price your items higher, you can afford to run sales most of the time and still make a profit. I’ll be running sales for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year. I also like to list my Christmas sale deadlines on my store to encourage people to order as soon as they can.”
Holiday Pricing Guide
Megan’s pricing strategy is solid, but some people may feel uncomfortable inflating prices before a sale. So what other options do sellers have for sale season special offers?
What advice do you have for new sellers in their first holiday sale season?
“The main thing I’ve learned is to set realistic deadlines on shipping and that kind of thing. It’s not worth the few extra dollars that you could earn if you’re stressed out. I’ve also created a swipe file of message responses to deal with any customer service issues that might crop up. Finally, I’m trying to build up a decent amount of money to spend on Etsy ads because the last time I ran ads on Small Business Saturday, the results were crazy.
I’d also tell sellers to have their listings up and running at least three months in advance. I’ve had people buying Christmas sweaters and ornaments in October. Even if you don’t plan to sell masses of products during the holiday sale season, it’s important to freshen up your inventory. New products can help to make it look like you’re a real person with a real inventory of stock.”
Holiday Planning Guide
Megan’s tips are all about getting prepared ahead of time, ensuring that your store is ready for increased activity. Megan uses Etsy for her stores, so she doesn’t have to worry about traffic increases. But, if you run your website, we’d add the following advice:
Etsy SEO Tips and More
How do you attract traffic to your Etsy stores?
“I’m beginning to try out Etsy ads, but as I’ve been taking a pretty passive marketing approach, I rely on SEO for people to find me. My conversion rates are pretty high because I spend a lot of time finding good keywords for my items and targeting the right customers.
It’s important that your designs and slogans aren’t too broad in their appeal. You need to niche down to avoid competing with 80,000 other t-shirts that are identical to your own.”
Do you use any special SEO tools?
“I use the Etsy search bar to get SEO and keyword ideas. For example, I will type in Nurse Shirt, and then I’ll throw in some longer keywords based on that until I narrow down the competition in the search results.
If an item on Etsy hasn’t sold within four months, it gets deactivated. I have all my listings set to manual approval so that if something hasn’t sold, I can decide on whether to re-list it or not. I try to work out if it’s a case of changing my keywords or updating a design entirely.”
Could you share any further tips for newcomers?
“One of the most important things I’d encourage newcomers to think about is pricing. Ensure that you’re not pricing your items too low. When you’re making a little extra profit, you can offer things like free shipping, often leading to better conversions.
The other thing to remember is perceived value: Etsy sellers aren’t competing with regular stores. We’re offering something that buyers can’t find anywhere else, so we don’t need to sell at rock bottom prices. Besides, if you price your items too low, you tend to get people who don’t care about your products. I’m looking for people who love my message or my items or people who like me as a business owner.”
What do you consider to be your biggest success so far?
“Some of the Success Stories that I’ve read were so successful that they didn’t seem achievable for me.
For me, success is passive:
My main goal was to make enough money to pay my part of the household bills while staying home with my daughter. I’m now able to contribute by paying off our house too, which I never thought I’d be able to achieve.”
What do you find challenging about running an online business?
“Now that my store is established, the biggest challenge is finding time to get things done. With print on demand, I could keep adding and adding to my store and growing my business, but I also have a family, so I need to focus on a healthy balance. But, I can work whenever I want, and I don’t need to run on someone else’s schedule. Print on demand is such a flexible business model for moms.”
Finally, what advice would you give anyone thinking of starting a print-on-demand business?
“Get started yesterday!”
We Want to Hear Your Story:
We would like to thank Megan for taking the time to share her story with us.
Do you have a story to share with us? Write to us on [email protected] with a summary of your experience and how it will help other merchants like you.
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