Can you believe it’s been a YEAR since my last blog update?
I have no idea how many of you will even read this, so I’ll just start out by saying helloooooooo to anyone reading this post.
…..all three of you! LOL!!
Before I jump in, let me touch on some personal things. Many of you have continued to reach out and ask about my dad since I’ve been gone. I appreciate you for that.
Not only is my dad doing well, but he’s back to traveling the world!
I took my family to Jamaica earlier this year to celebrate family and good health. A few months later, my parents went to Australia, and my mom joked that my dad walked her all over the continent. 🙂
What a blessing considering he couldn’t walk at all for nearly 3 months in 2018. And if you saw him walk, you’d never know he broke both of his ankles when he passed out. There’s no visible limp whatsoever!
If you had told me 3 years ago that I would be making a good portion of my income from my own digital art, I would have laughed!
It all started with the Merch By Amazon program.
I’ve earned nearly $150,000 in royalties selling digital art on Amazon alone. That doesn’t include any additional royalties from other sites and niche shops on Spreadshirt, TeePublic, Etsy, RedBubble and more.
I have a handful of shops on different niches, and a few with some random topics. My niche shops always, always outperform the random ones.
In Summer, 2018, I realized Merch By Amazon (MBA) was getting more competitive, and I knew that the glory days would be coming to an end sooner than later.
I wanted to diversify and focus on one niche.
So instead of doing all this random keyword stuff, I took a keyword/niche that I had discovered on Amazon the previous year and began building a shop for that audience.
It’s not a niche I am all that passionate about, but the low demand really got my attention. Plus, I was already selling in this space on Amazon. So I figured I could dominate this market by increasing my volume of designs.
I opened up a free RedBubble shop, and it was super slow going in the first few months. I’m talking about $5 monthly earnings. Yikes!
Slowly but surely, things began to pick up. I now have sales everyday.
I chose RedBubble because I didn’t have a following in this niche, and I knew they already had a lot of organic traffic. Plus, they offer tons of products and are constantly adding them.
In September of this year, I hit my first $3,000 month with this brand alone.
It’s important to note that $3,000 in one month is not just coming from shop sales. I began licensing certain designs to people who want to print and sell them on their local shops.
This was never the plan, but people kept reaching out to me and asking about licensing and custom work.
I didn’t want other people selling the same designs I was selling, so I decline some requests. However, if someone needs something completely different then I will create the image and charge a licensing fee. The price depends on how they plan to use it.
I setup a simple landing page on my domain where people can order a license with PayPal. So that added another income stream I wasn’t expecting.
I was very lucky that I found a niche that was completely underserved from an ecommerce standpoint. These people are elated that someone is actually devoting unique designs and a single shop to their niche. That has been key!
If you want to learn more about exactly how I chose the keyword and built the ecommerce brand from scratch, you can read the story over on Passive Shirt Profits. I wrote it in June, just after my first $2,000 month.
Why I Abandoned This Blog… Again.
My overall goal was to come back here from time to time and share website marketing lessons that I’ve gained from running Passive Shirt Profits.
But to be brutally honest, I’m making more money from my own art than I am teaching what I’m doing. So there hasn’t been all that much to share to this audience with regards to marketing.
After all, most of you signed up because you want to make money from a website, but I’m actually doing a lot WITHOUT a website believe it or not.
Now, I did setup a site to promote the shop, but it’s really just a landing page. I have a couple of pages and the license fee order form.
As I discussed in a recent video, I’ve spent the better part of the last two years improving my software knowledge (Illustrator, especially.)
Now it’s time to go back to my roots of website building and marketing — especially now that I’m focusing on a single brand.
In 2020, I’m going to put more energy into actually building the site up so it can act as another way to drive traffic to the shop. In other words, it’s time to build some more link juice!
Wow….link juice! I just realized I haven’t used THAT phrase in a long time!
I was pleased to see that one of my pages is now ranked 4th on Google for its desired keyword on such a small site. Good ole’ Google! I have to say, it does still let you play in the long-tail keyword game.
Long gone are the days where you could pick a fairly competitive keyword and start ranking a site quickly. I plan on using long tail keywords as the focus of the content to drive additional traffic.
And when I say long-tail, I mean LOOOOONG tail. The keyword I’m ranking for is about 6 keywords long. Nevertheless, it’s still used according to the Keywords Everywhere Chrome extension.
So the majority of the sales are coming from free, organic traffic on RedBubble, but I want that to change. You KNOW how much I hate relying on one source of traffic.
That’s one of the reasons I haven’t shared the niche. I’m very protective of it, and I’ve had to deal with enough theft of my ideas WITHOUT even using my name on this brand and sharing it. So I don’t even want to think about the copycats that would surface if I revealed it.
Maybe once I have a steady traffic source that is not relying so much on free traffic, I can start sharing more. That would also help with teaching because people can actually SEE what I’m doing.
I did branch out and start using Pinterest last year to promote my shop designs. So that has helped me diversify traffic a bit.
I love Pinterest because it can bring so much traffic for a long period of time. You don’t get that same traction with Instagram or Twitter.
I even have proof that Pinterest actually brings sales to my shop, thanks to Google Analytics.
Let me tell you. If you have an ecommerce shop and you are NOT using Pinterest, you are really, really missing out.
Pinterest is actually not a social media site. It’s a search engine that tons of people use now, and the traffic does convert!
I have been a Pinterest fan since it launched in 2011, but I was never able to track sales. Well, thanks to RedBubble, I can. It’s good to see that it actually does convert.
I know many of the gurus have said that it does, but I needed to see for myself! 🙂
A Parallel Universe
Probably one of the most fascinating things about running Passive Shirt Profits is the discovery of the parallel problems between both audiences.
When I think back to the many years of running this website and my YouTube channel, the issue people always had was aligning what they want to sell with what people actually want to buy.
Sometimes they are not the same, and you have to adjust if you notice the two are not lining up.
I’ve had people come to me with these enormous, complex website visions, yet the audience hasn’t been clearly defined. So they are never able to execute because the idea doesn’t really make sense with what is actually in demand.
When people set out to make money online (no matter the method), they often have tunnel vision with regards to their idea, and it can be very difficult to redirect it.
Just because you have an idea for a website or a T-shirt, doesn’t mean there is an audience that is receptive to the idea, OR maybe you aren’t connecting with people because of the way you are delivering it.
So instead of trying to find an audience that will accept or understand your idea, you need to actually research what the audience wants FIRST.
When I think back to the success I’ve had on this website, YouTube and with selling shirts, it has LESS to do with my technical skills of web or T-shirt design. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t have a lot of natural design talent.
It’s really more about understanding the audience I’m talking to and connecting to them in some way with my content.
That could be done by communicating via a blog post, YouTube video OR on a T-shirt. It doesn’t matter what you sell, you have to KNOW and be able to speak to your audience. But you can’t do that unless you truly know what they want and need.
It’s very tempting to stay married to your idea, T-shirt design or website direction, but it always needs to align with what is actually in demand.
I see so many people trying to force their ideas on an audience that hasn’t been validated yet, and they do the same thing with T-shirts.
One of my YouTube subscribers wanted me to look at his Etsy shop because he couldn’t understand why no one was buying. He told me that he doesn’t like doing research. He prefers to design what he likes.
Welp! There’s the problem right there!
Selling a product, no matter the arena, is not always about what YOU want. It’s more about what a defined audience wants and how well you can deliver it.
That’s the main lesson I wanted to bring back here. It doesn’t matter if you plan to create a website, design a T-shirt or sell a weight loss product on YouTube.
If you haven’t taken the time to really understand that audience so you can connect with their needs, pain points and desires, it won’t matter how “great” the idea is.
It’s also why it’s never a good idea for anyone to tell you what niche to go into. So much of that will depend on what you have to offer the audience.
Having websites in two very different spaces really highlighted how many people struggle with that all-important step of defining WHO they are going to reach and how they are going to connect with them.
Market / niche research is one of the most boring parts of earning online, but it cannot be skipped no matter how you plan to earn.
Anywho, just wanted to check in and say hello! Drop me a line and let me know what you’re up to! Hope 2019 has treated you well!
Mr. Stone says
I had been following your blog for many years now, even before you started your YouTube channel, I missed reading your blog posts and I see you’re still doing great content elsewhere with ecommerce, thanks for sharing these great ideas.
Lisa Irby says
Thanks! Yeah, I got burned out on 2create and building websites. I’m enjoying the creative T-shirt selling biz. Thanks for coming by!
It has been a while since you wrote this post, but I read it now on a Friday night, after wondering how Lisa Irby was doing. I have to say you are an inspiration to a lot of people without a doubt!
I followed your youtube vids 10 years ago as my main ‘rolemodel’, the one I believed every word of.
What hits me the most is the simplicity in how you explain things and how hard you WANT to help others, even if you almost risk to share too much (to your potential competitors I mean).
Helping others made you big, made you appreciated, and makes people come back to your site, on a Friday night, even after 10 years.
Hi Lisa, you have such inspiring articles and videos! I’ve learn a lot from you 🙂 Good luck with your projects!
Lisa You are a great, strong and inspiring woman. I wish you all the best in your life.
Lisa, so good to hear that your Dad is up and running around again! Your family sounds awesome and I bet your house (or your parents house) is a blast during the holidays.
Thank you for sharing with us about your progress and success with Merch by Amazon. So many ideas and sooooo little time. You are so creative and smart about how to get things done. I appreciate your insights, suggestions and thoughts about ways to make money.
I needed this post! I too, will always be one of your 3 followers!
Wishing you and your family a safe and happy holiday season! – Nancy
Lisa Irby says
Thanks Nancy! Yes, I have a pretty big extended fam and the Holidays are always a lot of fun when we all get together. Look out! LOLOL
Thanks for reading and wishing you a Happy Holidays too!
Donna Bates says
Happy Holidays! Thank you for the update and I’m happy to hear your Dad is doing very doing well! I’m learning GIMP 2.10, graphics. I should have taken the leap into entrepreneurship a long time ago. It’s hard work but it sure feels good and it’s so rewarding! Thank you for all your support and encouragement.
Congrats on all your success!! Looking forward to hearing more on your future website/traffic building. The SEO game has changed so much and so fast. By the way no Joomla yet huh??? lol 🙂
Much Love Lisa!
Lisa Irby says
LOL! No Joomla yet, Dez!
Hi, Lisa Thanks for showing up again.
I’ve given up on the idea of building my own website (my husbands online business keeps me incredibly busy) but I still love reading your posts and do glean some learning here and there. Glad to hear your parents visited our beautiful country, Australia! Yes, there is plenty of walking to do here. Thanks for sharing your knowledge so willingly Lisa!
Missed you, Lisa! Great to hear you and your family are well!
Lisa, I have missed your posts and am glad your loved ones are well. Many thanks for the inspiration and motivation!
Ethan Hausey says
Hello Lisa Irby,
As always, you put out very informative information. After ready your blog, I will admit, YOU HAVE WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT! You are definitely good at the game, when it comes on making money online. After viewing your channel on YouTube, which I found by accident, many years ago, it proves that anything is possible. With being CONSISTENT, PERSISTENT, PATIENT, & OF COURSE DISCIPLINE. I’m also glad that your dad is doing fine, in life. Also, this was a very LONG BLOG, now it’s time to view the video portions on it.
Thanks for any & all updates, LISA IRBY!
Lisa Irby says
Thank you Ethan! You’ve always been such a great supporter of my blogs.
It’s been a couple years since I had a website, but I’m still honored to be one of the “three” reading your posts. You are one of the very few people whose emails–and linked posts–I read immediately and from beginning to end. Why? Because like I’ve said before, you keep it real. And I like hearing about your latest marketing exploits. The Internet Marketing space has changed dramatically from how it was, back in the day. But you continue to adjust with the times and stay in the money. Great point about the importance of knowing your market. All the best, Lisa.
Lisa Irby says
Hey James! That’s so nice of you to say. Thanks for stopping by!
Mike Miller says
Good to hear from you, Lisa. You are one of only a few gurus I listen to. You have been missed.
Lisa Irby says
Thank you Mike!
Hey, Lisa! Thanks so much for sharing such a great/informative post! I’m happy your Dad has fully recovered and back to traveling the world with your Mom!
I just about being on the verge of giving up on this whole print on-demand store thingy! I recently started an Etsy Shop (DesignsByVone); I have Redbubble, Society 6 and couple fo others and I have sold NOT one piece of my artwork nor any products with my artwork. It’s been long while now and zilch!
I have a whole lot of admirers on FB and Instagram and no buyers! I have a serious decision to make go back to just having a hobby or keep going and try and figure out what I’m missing! Clearly, I am missing something; I think you may have touch on it…clarity as to WHO wants my type art?
Lisa Irby says
Before you list your products, do you check erank (Etsy’s rank tool) for the competition of your keywords? That tool is so incredibly helpful to learn what keywords to target. I checked your shop and you have some very nice art! One thing I would suggest is using a different thumbnail for your tees. You can barely see the design on a desktop so I can imagine how small that would appear on a mobile device.
Happy to hear of your dads recovery Lisa.
Also great to see how adaptable you are to different business models!
Keep up the good work.
Lisa Irby says
It’s my long-time e-buddy, Jack! Hey! Always good to see you here. I miss our days of chatting on WB!!
😀 It sure is, I am always keeping up to date with your progress even if you don’t hear from me too much. Me too, that was a fun time on WB and I am still thankful to you for all the help you gave me when I got started.
All the best with your t shirt businesses Lisa!
I love to hear from you. Any time is a happy time for me 🙂 Thanks for this. Crazy interesting! Love ya!!!
Darlene at SugarsBeach.com says
Yep, diversify that traffic!
My beach site took a big hit with Pinterest, then on top of that, they suspended my Pinterest acct for a few days.
I’m still working on growing SEO, but it’s my list that’s getting me thru this dry spell.
Always love to hear what you have to say.
Lisa Irby says
Sorry to hear that Darlene. Was it a gradual hit over time or a sudden hit?
Thank goodness for the list!!
Richard Turner says
Hi, Lisa. great to hear from you again, but most of all its reall great to hear that your dad is completely fixed and running on gas again. This post has come at a very timely moment, as I am looking at putting a blog out there myself and this has just bought in to focus my first step before I start. Find out who is going to be my target audience.
Lisa Irby says
Yes, please, please do that part first. I have worked with so many people over the years and I would say that not connecting with an audience’s needs is probably one of the biggest challenges they face.
More than three reading…
Lisa Irby says
LOL, yeah I can see that. I can’t lie. I was worried no one would show up. So great to see that I was wrong! 🙂
Glad to hear your dad is doing fine:-) Thanks for sharing
– Follower #4 LOL
I enjoyed reading this post! It was encouraging to read how you have figured out how to generate an income online. Thanks for the tips! This is really encouraging to me as I’ve had to figure out my brands and the specific niche they offer in that space- one is music which I have a children’s music album and promoting doing in person pop-ups and populating my you tube channel & the other is lifestyle-specifically organizing meaningful everyday information. When I made that switch in that focus, I have gotten a lot more interest when I design materials with the information organized and people are more inclined to buy the product that I’m talking about. I have some t-shirt ideas to go along with this niche, so I’m hoping to learning from you! Thanks
Lisa Irby says
Excellent! Keep growing, Lori!
Mitchell Allen says
There are at least four of us! Woot.
So, as always, I am so happy for you. I’m reaching a point where I want to reach my audience more effectively and your message resonates with me. Sounds like the time-tested methods still work (long-tail keywords, organic traffic, studying the analytics.) Guess I better rub my hands together and get to work! 🙂
Lisa Irby says
LOL, Hey Mitch!
It really is true. No matter what you sell, the formula remains the same. Find a niche with low comp keywords, know the audience and offer value. Good luck!
Thank you very much for your inspirations. I couldn’t read all, but I will continue reading later on
I will always be one of your “last 3” followers, Lisa! LOL
Glad to hear your brand is taking off! And thanks for all the good tips as always!
Lisa Irby says
LOL, Laura! Thanks for reading!
It’s nice to see you posting again, Lisa :-). This post is exactly what I needed to see as I more focused on my eCommerce as of late. Always, enjoy your advice – Ariane