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Making Tangible Products

Lesson 26 from: Make Things Make Money: The Business of Illustration and Lettering

Dina Rodriguez

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Lesson Info

26. Making Tangible Products

Next Lesson: How to License

Lesson Info

Making Tangible Products

Now let's talk about products you can touch. Right? The big difference between digital and tangible products is this one is a lot harder to make. You have to think of, where am I going to be ordering these products? Do I have to ship them myself? What's that fulfillment process look like? What if there's a customer complaint? How do I manage that? Now some people like me, remember Hipster Ketchup? They'll jump in, oh I wanna make an apparel brand, everyone else is doing, I'll look so cool, I can make literally my own clothes, what a concept! But, a lot of people have had that same idea, and not all of them are successful, so I want you to start slowly, if you've never made a tangible product, why would you burden yourself? Like I'm just going to start with ten products, twenty products, that's insane, don't do that (laughing) Okay, you'll just get burnt out and then you just won't even touch it. And products are a great plan to fill in those gaps and your client work. Okay, so start sl...

owly with just one product, understand the business, okay? And then don't make more products unless you have proof of concept. Right? We don't want you to spend money unless you know people actually wanna buy your product. Now if you do have a couple of products out right now and no one's buying them, you need to rethink your marketing strategy, and figure out why aren't people buying it. Is it the quality? Is your artwork? Is it how you're talking about yourself? Maybe you're not advertising yourself, remember, if you don't have and audience, and you have products, and there's no one there to see it, do they exist? Not to them. So these are the things you have to think back, think back to that failure checklist that we talked about in segment one. Are you doing something wrong? I know a lot of you in studio have products, and I want them to be as successful as possible. So, how do we start to make real money from these products? How do we go viral, right? That's what everybody wants, everyone wants just a ton of money, and hits, and traffic, and all the things right? Well, remember how we talked about when you're working in your client project you're sharing your process. Why wouldn't you do the same thing with your tangible product? Right? You're selling yourself, you have the same message, but you're able to repeat yourself because the content and the image is changing, but the call to action remains the same. You can go ahead and do pre orders for your book, your T shirt, your mug, your whatever you wanna make, 'cause you're talking about it, and you can show, maybe even get people to sign up for a newsletter to gain access to it first, right? So there's always a call to action you can be thinking of right? Whether it's not, how can I get people down the sales funnel? The same thing with your client work, you have to think about your products. Now, it has to be something interesting, beautable, beautiful? There we go. And abusable for someone to want to buy it. Or, even better if it's all free. Right? So we're sharing our process regularly, and we're finding new ways to talk about our product, we can do blogs, video, process images that tell your story. So not only saying the kind of content, like showing your process, but also, there's a difference between, hey I'm making a video telling you about this product, versus, hey here's a newsletter showing you my process, hey here's a podcast that I got featured on telling you about my process, right? You're repeating yourself but there are new mediums. And you can go ahead and you can reach more people. The more mediums, the more times you talk about it, the more people can see your work. Now this is the wrong way to promote a product. You work on it, it's done, you post it. You have all that wasted time while you were making it that you could have A, gotten followers, gotten people to do a pre order, and also you don't even know if people are going to like it. 'Cause that's a good indication, you were posting it on social media and you only get twenty likes, and you get ten-thousand followers? Something's wrong, okay? That product you're making just isn't gonna cut it. But you can get proof of concept before you're even done, and people can look at it and be like, "ooh that's good, I like where's that's going Dina, I'm getting excited! Where can I buy this? When will this be available?" When you start to see interest, that's your light bulb going off. This is going to work, people are interested. Right? This is why you have to showcase your process. And tell that story in whatever way you can. So, let me walk you through my process. This is a T shirt I made, it's pretty, right? Okay, so, I love Twitch, and when someone goes ahead and follows me on Twitch, I say this, "hello and welcome (Audience Laughing) to the league of letters". Right? And I do it in my salutary, radio voice. It sounded sexy voice, shut up mom, okay? (Audience laughing) (laughing) and I wanted to be able to have a piece of merch, right? For my own brand on Twitch, that I could sell, 'cause I sell a lot of other Twitch partners, and people that were more popular on Twitch, these people would get like a thousand people in their chatroom, I don't know how they do it. I want to be able to, have, build that brand of loyalty and awareness, right, for my own brand. So I created the league of letters T shirt. Now I talked about this online before I even started, I was on Twitch. Hey guys, what do you think about me having my own T shirt? I'm literally talking to my audience and asking them questions about what kind of T shirt they would like to wear to represent my brand. Makes sense, it's a good opportunity. Then I started creating sketches. I obviously used Twitch to livestream my process, so that's helpful because I'm speaking directly to my audience, but I'm also posting my process on Twitter, Instagram, right? Just being able to build that interest. Two hundred and four likes. So excellent, very cool. Those L's that G, my god, right? They're really into it. So I keep doing more, and then I post, by the time I post this final mock up of being available on Redbubble , designed by humans, these print on demand services that I like to use, it went crazy, I actually got a phone call from Redbubble. Oh my god, you just sold two hundred T shirts in an hour. We've literally never had this happen before. Can we sponsor you? Yeah buddy, sponsorships! That very day, my work was on the first page of Redbubble. And they gave me a coupon to go ahead and buy whatever the hell I wanted 'cause they just were like, we like money, here's some money, right? (Audience laughing) Now Redbubble, I have a great, back and forth with. So there's so many other print on demand services that are out there, so before we move on, I kinda wanna cover those as well, because you can go ahead and make your own products, you can print them yourselves, you can do the packaging, Right? But what about print on demand? It solves the issue, there's no upfront costs, and you can still make tangible products. So let's go over them. The main 4 are, Redbubble, Society6, Threadless, and Designed by Humans. So we have Threadless, Designed by Humans, Society6, and Redbubble. If you're wanting to sell print on demand products on your own website like Wordpress or Squarespace, you can actually use something called Printful. Printful,, if you guys wanna check it out, they do T shirts, leggings, socks, babies clothes, dog clothes, normal people clothes, plus size clothes which is nice for us girls that like to eat, alright? (Audience laughs) It's so hard to find clothes that don't look like a garbage bag with patterns on them, but anyways (laughs). So, you can use these that can kind of help fill that gap. Now, just keep in mind you won't make as much of a profit obviously with print on demand services because you're getting a royalty, right? When you're selling your own products, 'cause you're taking it up, that upfront cost to pay for shipping, to do fulfillment, to get that packaging, you get more of a profit, because it's coming out of your money, it's coming out of your bank account, but Threadless, Redbubble, they're taking it out of their bank account to produce it. But the good news is they're not doing it in bulk. They're literally printing it on demand. So when someone buys it, then they print it, and then they ship it, you don't have to worry about any of it. So, if you've never thought about making products let's review. Launch just one product first. Regularly share your process. Now the final thing we're going to go over is how do you price a product? Right? Now you can't really price on value, it's more tangible 'cause normally if normally it's not educational then they won't be able to make money off of it, so how do you do it? Well you do a little research. You research the product, see what competitors are doing, and just make sure you're giving yourself at least a 30% profit margin. Now this is especially great when you're creating your own products. When not so much doing the print on demand, but you do wanna make sure that if you are on one of those sites that you're more in line with your competition, but if you are making your own the T shirts, your own apparel, you really wanna make sure that it makes sense that what you're charging. If you have a more finer clothing style, or using silk screening, or glow in the dark T shirts obviously that would be more expensive, so people can understand the extra cost, but you don't want to be too cheap or too expensive, you want to sit right cozy in the middle, right? Now another thing that I'll end on this slide, I don't believe in discounts, ever. I believe in rewarding loyalty. Cause think about it like this, I have a T shirt, I'm selling it. Sally, she's been following me for a really long time. She's been seeing those process posts, right? She's excited, she buys it the second it's available. But, a month later it's on sale. Sally is pissed. Now people are able to buy that T shirt for $10 off just randomly 'cause it was good timing. Why would you piss off your loyal customers that paid it right when it was available? Now this is what I like to do. Anytime I create a new product, I don't charge a lot of money in the beginning. Because they're cheaper, 'cause I'm rewarding those who want to buy it first. And then as I grow, I charge a little bit more. And then a little bit more. So that way I'm rewarding loyalty, those first comers get the best price, and I'm not discounting my work. Because, that's a way that won't piss anybody off. They'll actually feel like they're on the inside, which is always a good feeling for someone in your brand. Now does that make sense for everybody? Do we know how to charge a little bit better for tangible products? We feel better just starting with one thing? Now the same thing applies, maybe you've been doing products for a long time now. Are you thinking about doing something new? Try it slowly (laughs) Especially if you're going from printing, something you can just print from home, to having to call someone to make your products. Then I would recommend definitely just try one, dip your little toe in there, see if the water's warm, right? Make sure it's the right thing before you spend way too much time and money on it. Do you have a questions? If you're selling on a print demand site, and the print on demand site puts things on sale, you don't have any control over that, so then you are offering discounts if they're putting all of their whatever Oh yeah. Easter pillows on sale. Yeah, if you're doing a print on demand, you don't have control over it because it's not on your own platform. I'm speaking more directly to people who want to put it on their own platform and create their own products. But the good news about using print on demand with their sales is that it doesn't effect your commission, for the most part, you can go ahead and have 20% off, or Valentines Day sale, like I know Society6, Redbubble will have like a sale like every few days, which kind of sucks 'cause it makes you not want to buy their products, you just wait 'till that newsletter comes in before you buy anything, and I kinda' really don't think that's a smart system, but hey I'm not the CEO of Redbubble. Redbubble hire me (laughs) I'll make you money. But yea, does that answer the question? Cool. Any other questions? You just live with it. Okay, yea, you just live with it, yea. [Dark Haired Woman] I wanted to kinda ask a quick question about a book that I'm working on. Yeah go for it. [Dark Haired Woman] In regards to like, I was thinking, would it be smart to, I guess it would, I'm gonna answer my own question, to reveal the illustrations on Instagram as I work through the illustrations? Definitely, for sure. [Dark Haired Woman] Okay, and then like maybe put like a signup if they're interested in the story? Maybe like put the blurb of the story with the illustrations? Yes. Okay. I think a great thing you can do is, so go ahead and show your process on social media, and then go ahead and have a landing page for your product, you know show mock ups of it, letting people know, hey, it's not done yet, but these are just mock ups, giving an idea of what it could look like, and sign up to my newsletter to learn more. And don't just use that news letter once it's launched, every time you post a new piece of content showing your process, share that also in your newsletter. 'Cause then you can start getting directly feedback. 'Cause people are more likely to reply to an email than they are to reply to a comment. I don't know why, I think because one's private and one's public, so they feel a little bit safer, 'cause they feel more anonymous, but that might be something you want to consider. Now I'm going to use this sample, I have my T shirt, but I also have a sample of patreon. Okay, so I created Lettering Adventures, where I was teaching one new style of lettering every single month, and I was actually, I've never done printed materials before, so I dipped my little toe, right? Trying to figure out what it would take to print, produce, ship and fulfill my own magazine, right? So I went and I tried it. Now, I went and created a patreon, I told them what I was going to make, I hadn't even created my first zine, and I reached a thousand dollars in the first 2 weeks. Didn't even start making the zine yet. I was just telling people, hey this is what I'm going to make, sign up at the end of this month so you can learn Victorian lettering. I didn't have an example of what Victorian lettering looked like, I didn't have the cover, I didn't even tell them what they really could learn, it was just more like, hey you can learn how to draw the alphabet, and the projects, but they couldn't really see it. But people were so excited, and I've established an amount of authority in my industry, So I had this large following to connect to, so I could easily go ahead, write a newsletter, boom, boom, boom, I definitely didn't expect a thousand dollars in 2 weeks, I'll tell you what, I really really didn't, I'm not like, oh my god I'm such a big deal, I'm really not, I'm like a medium deal. (Audience Laughs) But it went explosive, and right now we're sitting at about the thousands, so right now I'm okay, I've hit my goal, but now how can I start to make this better? But, and I realized you know what? I don't like making my own magazine. So this month I actually decided I'm going to do video tutorials instead of doing a printed zine. Some people were disappointed, 'cause I was realizing I was only making like a dollar profit off these printed zines. That's not sustainable. So when I wetn ahead and explained to my audience, hey I'm making this change, they were cool with it, because I was replacing it with something better. So I was turning a printed product into a digital product. Right? So you could do the same thing for you, like if you make planners and calendars, why can't you create a digital version of it so they can print it out themselves? Right, no up front cost. I mean same thing why you would use Redbubble versus fulfilling your own things, so that way they can still got the design on that beautiful T shirt without you having to spend any money. So these are all the things we have to consider.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Make Things Make Money Keynote
Make Things Money Money Resource Guide

Ratings and Reviews


Wow! This class was fantastic! Dina did a great job at providing relevant information that I can use right away. I was particularly impressed at how she was able to explain licensing and royalties, she really broke it down into easy to understand pieces. I think this course would be a great foundation for any artist/freelancer but I liked the focus on lettering and illustration. Creative Live must convince Dina to provide more classes!

Elizabeth Matzen

This class is full of excellent information, and Dina did a great job covering everything from building a webpage to working with clients. She has a engaging delivery style, presented the information in a succinct and well-organized manner, and the pace of the course was perfect - not too slow! I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to start or boost their creative business - great info!

Sharnika Blacker

Awesome class! Inspired and excited to improve my business with the processes and knowledge gained. Thank you Dina!!

Student Work