My dropshipping journey started while I was in college. I’m a graphic design major, so to create something from nothing comes naturally to me. The skills I’ve learned were psychology, marketing, and web design. I started freelancing to gain experience while still being on campus which taught me a lot about business and how people value it.
The biggest takeaway from my formal education is the skill of learning how to learn. Learning does not stop after school, your second job, or owning a 6 figure business. There will never be a period where you know everything and can live solely on that. That mindset will only slow growth.
Started out as a Graphic Design Freelancer
Freelancing graphic design was a challenge because although I was good about understanding what the client’s problems were and how to visually solve that, I hated the sales aspect. Being reserved and introverted is an uphill battle to meet and pitch to new people all the time. Although I’m not bad at it, I resent it so much I knew this wasn’t the path for me.
Another option from the B2B is to look into B2C. My college’s design program specialized in printing and was able to learn so much about what’s involved and learned about the industry.
Now, I never was a great student. It was hard for me to have the motivation and discipline to continue caring about doing work that felt like a chore. (I still feel some of that today, I just handle it differently now.)
The Beginning of my Ecommerce Journey
I thought of ways to motivate myself to improve my productivity. I researched the science of it. I sent emails to business people I looked up to. I read a lot of books and blogs about it.
I realized that you need to do it and forget any kind of self-doubt, the anxiety, and fear of failure to do anything meaningful. With that, I figured I put it all together that I knew. Motivation, graphic design, printing, and ecommerce. That’s what made TyypoPrints.
TyypoPrints making dreamers into doers was a challenge in the direction of what I’ve known and freeing of being able to do what I felt was right. All without having to deal with clients.
Little did I have to eventually learn to design ideas people want. I looked at the competition and I would cringe how generic and forgettable most were. Live. Laugh. Love and some Gandhi quotes. I wanted to change that.
I want to live by my slogan. A lot of people think that a slogan is just some jingle that helps people remember you, but it’s more than that. It’s the brand guideline of telling what you should be doing. When I’m making any kind of content I ask myself, ‘is this making dreamers into doers’? If the answer is no, then I don’t do it.
I didn’t think much about competition starting out and I feel that was also a blessing because it allowed me to focus on myself and what I do best. Although I’ll never believe I’m the best at what I do, I’m a different experience.
One motivational trick that has helped me was writing out my productivity problems and that correlated to a design of a print. At first, it was for me and being therapeutic about it. As it turns out, most problems were pretty common and relatable that it helped others as well.
I learned the benefits of the product first. Cool art is a major selling point of my prints, but so is the high-quality resolution, the shatterproof frames, and free returns just in case they didn’t like it. The reassurance of the fears resulted in a better experience that didn’t affect the consequences (returns, negative reviews, social media outrage, etc.)
The power of the word ‘Free’. This can be vague if you provide something to be free. For myself, I sacrifice some profit to have free shipping so I can flaunt that word in every chance I get when I talk about my prints.
Quality over quantity when it came to releasing new designs. Good work that is late can still be good. Rushed work will generally be bad no matter what.
Transparency sells. This goes hand in hand with documenting everything you do because you’re showing what’s going on behind the scenes. How I go about the ideas for the next product, any upcoming specials, thoughts on relevant motivational topics. I try to be as open as possible so my customers see that I’m not another forgettable faceless company and I bring value that will improve your life through a product.
What keeps the sales going is honesty. I never lie or break a promise. This disrupts trust which kills repeat customers. I would never support a business that’s dishonest with me and I don’t that’ll be fair to do the same to others.
My Expansion into Podcasting
A reader asked if I was willing to do a podcast on my blog and I considered what it would take and just starting out recording from my phone it turned out to be the right choice.
Now with professional equipment and an ongoing schedule, I hosted The Don’t Quit Podcast.
Now over 200 episodes of 10 minutes or less of productivity and motivational tips to start and end your week strong. It’s been a journey writing, recording, and editing while sharing my motivational art prints.
I also didn’t want to play it safe. There’s power in an active voice and having a stance in what I believed in. There’s an offset you can’t please everyone, but the biggest advantage of competition is knowing you can’t be for everyone, so I’m for those who are similar to me.
It also allows content to be posted in case I had a hard time coming up with content to post on social media. It doesn’t have to be business related, but it does have to be brand related. I also learned that even though a lot of people ‘skim reading’, they’ll read what you have to say if it’s interesting/relevant to them.
My reflection on what went right and how you can learn from it
My biggest takeaway for my success was I focused on what I was most passionate about.
I was a freelance graphic designer before I went into ecommerce. What made the change was I was good at marketing via visual graphics but absolutely hated the sales aspect of freelancing. Since ecommerce is way more marketing focused, it was an easy transition, and I no longer dread making sales pitches.
Another is when in doubt, look at what your biggest competitors are doing and not doing and connect with their customers to see if there’s any dissonance you can enter to show you exist.
If it all fails, salvage what you can, so it never really feels like a ‘failure’. I went into the motivation niche to help me become motivated, to find meaning with everything I’m doing, and to share what I learn with others.
If it never took off, then I can say that I learned what it takes to have a true work ethic that I can apply in all aspects of my career.
What I see a lot with people’s products starting out is if you’re not 100% proud of something change it until you are, if you can’t, then remove it. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that not all my designs are winners. Some I couldn’t justify using in ads when I felt others were going to covert better. This was a sign that those had to go and made the brand stronger.
I invest the most in email marketing, it’s practically free and I have complete ownership of the experience. Not to mention, most people who sign up want to see promotional ads. Next is collaborations with life/business coaches. It’s all efficient and effective to expand reach without having to pay to get a customer every time.
This leads to being in the mind of a customer. When you’re purchasing things on Amazon or other ecommerce businesses, think to yourself, what are the things they have done that earn your trust.
Is your business missing something like that? How many times have you heard of that brand/product before purchasing it? Really think deep about it.
The most underrated skill is critical thinking. The ability to take information and form a judgment on it. You’ll need it more so than ever in the dropshipping culture as there are sharks everywhere. A way to start is by asking yourself, why are they saying that? How does this benefit me as well as benefits them?
Thank you for reading my story and I hoped it helped yours!
Want to learn more about print on demand?
If you’re interested now in learning more about print on demand, then check out the articles I linked to below:
- 15 Most Successful Print on Demand Store Examples
- What Is Print on Demand: An Ultimate Beginner’s Guide
- Dropshipping vs. Print On Demand: What Is the Difference?
Good luck with everything!