This is Kendra Scheesley’s success story. Kendra is a client of mine and has an ecommerce business, currently focused on Print-on-demand (POD) physical products.
My favorite thing about Kendra’s story is her commitment to finding a business model that fits her life. As a busy mom, Kendra has little time to focus on her business. She needed to find a way to earn an income without trading her time for money.
Here are some of Kendra’s highlights:
- Tested multiple business models before landing on the perfect fit for her.
- Mastered many new skills including copywriting, building websites, accounting, product pricing, SEO, and paid advertising.
- Earned $4000 from her POD business in one month.
- Created a net passive income between $150 and $1000 (which is still growing).
You can find out more about Kendra’s wort-at-home adventures on her blog: Discover Work From Home.
Now, keep reading to learn all about starting a print-on-demand business for passive income.
I worked full-time for about 15 years in corporate IT as a programmer, business analyst, and project manager. It paid good money, but I always wanted more autonomy, flexibility, and income potential in my work. I saw running my own business as the way to do that, starting it as a side hustle and eventually making enough to quit my job.
I started my first side business in 2007 selling handmade jewelry. Over time I also tried a snack vending machine business, an Amazon FBA private label business, an informational website with ads, print-on-demand e-commerce, and transcription editing work.
Then, in 2017, I was laid off three weeks into my maternity leave. We had planned to put my daughter in daycare, but after she arrived it became important for me to take care of my daughter while she was little.
I decided not to go back to corporate. Although my husband was able to take of our family financial obligations, I still wanted to bring in an income and have something to accomplish for myself. So, my side business became more of a focus.
How did you end up starting a print-on-demand business?
I found out about Print-on-demand (POD) when an influencer I was following recommended a $297 course on how to do it.
POD is a business where sales aren’t limited by the hours you work or by the money you invest in inventory and advertising. The course was relatively inexpensive, and I’ve found that taking a course saves time and headache trying to figure it all out on my own.
I started my POD business at the end of 2016. I began with about 30 products, but then got off track. I found out I was pregnant in January 2017 and ended up focusing on my health and getting ready for the baby.
During this time, I kept my products up and got one or two orders a month. This income was entirely passive.
I tried being a transcriptionist, but the hourly pay was too low for me and wouldn’t bring any money in if I had to take a break for another maternity leave. That ultimately ruled out any kind of freelancing for me until we were done growing our family.
I started a blog about working from home, but I wanted evidence that I could make money. I felt this would give me more credibility and help me really make my blog a success.
That’s when I looked at my POD business and realized it had already made enough to pay for the course. I decided POD would be a good place to focus my efforts.
What was the most challenging part as you got started?
Initially, it was easy for me to start a business. But over time, as various business models have not worked for me, I had to remind myself that I learned a lot from each experience. And that this knowledge will be a foundation for future success.
I know you need to keep trying things, until you find the right fit.
With Etsy, back in 2007, I learned how to set up and run a business. I didn’t take a course on starting an Etsy business, I just did it.
I learned how to take good photos, write engaging copy, do the accounting, price my products, do Etsy SEO, have good product constructions, source quality materials, test new offerings, ship products, etc.
It was fun and I loved it. I overcame each new challenge by consistently working on incremental improvement.
How did you earn your first money?
You never know where your first sale will come from. Which is why it’s so important to keep testing different things.
For example, my first Etsy sale was a trade with another seller. We bought each other’s products so we could both get a review in our shops.
With Amazon private label, I got my first sales through Facebook Ads.
And with my current POD business, most of my traffic comes through organic Etsy and Amazon SEO. My first POD sale was a mug design in a niche I know well that doesn’t have a lot available for buyers.
That first product sale design is still one of my bestsellers today.
Would you mind sharing how much you earn on average each month?
It varies because of retail seasonal trends. November and December get a huge jump in sales for the holiday gifting season, and then May/June also get a more modest jump for Mother’s Day/Father’s Day.
In the first 8 months of focusing on POD, my monthly revenue varied from approximately $700 to $4000. My net income (after expenses) was between $150 and $1000.
Starting a Print-on-demand business is a long-term commitment. The important thing to know about this business model is that it starts slow. However, it’s not an hourly wage because I have it set up so it’s mostly automated passive income.
The work I do now is to keep growing the business by adding new POD products.
Can you tell us more about how you are growing your business?
I put up more designs every day. I add new product types from both existing and new production partners.
For example, I started with mugs with one supplier and that is my main product. Since then, I’ve expanded to tumblers, shot glasses, wallets, and more, across five different suppliers.
When I get a good selling mug design, I order a case of it and have it shipped to Amazon to participate in their FBA program. I’m also experimenting with paid advertising on Amazon, Etsy, Google Shopping, Pinterest, etc.
What are you most looking forward to over the next 12 months?
I’m looking forward to the 2019 gifting holiday season. I’ll have a lot more products up as compared to last year’s season.
I’m excited about beating my December 2018 record month of $4k in revenue.
I hope you enjoyed Kendra’s story and found it inspiring.
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