(I’m excited about today’s post because this is something I’ve been working on for the past five months. Now I’m ready to talk about it.)
Not too long ago, I knew nothing about how to run a Facebook ad to sell a product. Okay maybe just tried it once. I ran an ad for an iPhone app I had to try and get more users. I wasn’t sure if it really helped. I probably was doing it all wrong. Still I tried.
One day in March I came across someone selling a course about how to make money selling your own t-shirts online. This seller was your typical internet marketer. He said how easy it was. He said he earned over $100k in a month. He made it seem like anyone could do it. He knew how to sell.
So my eyes got big and dreamt about the money I could earn if I sold my own designs. Selling t-shirts had been on my mind for many years. I just never thought I could make that much money from it.
I bought the course, which was really cheap. The course was just okay, but I knew nothing to start anyways. Soon I had my first t-shirt design uploaded and ready to sell. I created it myself with my basic Photoshop skills. I created an ad and started running a Facebook ad campaign. I learned to test it out with a $10 ad budget. If no one bought a shirt in the first $10, then stop the ad. It was a way to test out the design and buyers.
My first design got to $10 and no one bought. I stopped it.
Still I was interested in this. I liked the process. I joined a couple Facebook groups to talk and learn from other people. Some were just beginning, some were having success, while some were still struggling.
The next twenty designs and ad campaigns failed. I spent $10 each time to test it out, and despite thinking people would love the shirt, no one was buying.
The highest I got was 3 shirts. I thought I had an amazing design and targeted the right audience. I lost money on that campaign because each day I spent $10 and ran it for seven days hoping at least ten shirts were ordered. The reason I needed ten orders is because the website I was using to print and ship these shirts is Teespring.com. They make it easy for anyone to sell shirts. Just upload a design, set your price, and if at least 10 shirts are ordered, then the shirts get printed and shipped. They handle that. They just send you money.
If it doesn’t reach at least 10, then no one will get charged and no shirts will be printed.
So no upfront costs and no need to keep any inventory.
I learned it wasn’t as easy as I thought. I couldn’t just make a shirt, and advertise it. Twenty-one failures proved that. I tried selling shirts to dog lovers, coffee lovers, hot sauce lovers, lawyers and more. It would have been easy to quit after so many failures. I wasn’t ready to quit yet.
Finally on the 22nd campaign I had a winning design. It was stupidly simple. It was just a cute message I found on Instagram and targeted towards pediatric nurses. It took less than five minutes to create it in Photoshop. Once I ran the ad, I had a sale before I spent $10.
After the campaign ended seven days later, 17 shirts were bought. I spent $81.72 on ads and earned $112.25 for a profit of $30.53. It wasn’t a huge profit, but it was a successful campaign finally. It took a few more failures before I had another successful one when I sold 32 shirts.
Here is that shirt. As you can see I was targeting butchers, and giving them a funny shirt.
Seeing success made me even more obsessed about this. I stayed up late to research ideas and work on new campaigns. I learned through trial and error. I carried a Moleskin notebook around all day and wrote down t-shirt ideas. The first thing in the morning I would check how sales overnight were. The last thing I’d do before bed was preparing new designs to start selling in the morning.
After my first full month, I just about broke even. I cashed out $1,106.87 from Teesrping, but paid just about that much in Facebook advertising. Some people might be discouraged, but I was glad I broke even.
In the month of May, I kept working hard. I was flat out was obsessed with it. All my free time was spent on this. Because I was trying to find the right audience and sell them the right design, I had more failed campaigns than winning ones. But the winning campaigns were massive.
I had my tipping point
The month of May I was finally profitable! I finally was more consistent with my campaigns and selling designs that my customers wanted. All the struggling I had before was finally turning around. All the hard work I put in was now starting to show me massive results.
The month of May was my tipping point. Since then I’ve been profitable every month.
(This is part 2 of my story. If you haven’t read part 1 yet, do that first so you’ll know what’s going on.)
I told you about my decision to finally quit my job. I first want to address some points that weren’t so clear. It was brought on by comments by Sam, who runs a blog called Financial Samurai.
Quitting my job was harder because it was a family business. While my mom would have welcomed me back anytime if I wanted a job again, I still felt bad to quit. She relied on me a lot to oversee the restaurant when she was off or out of town. There was no one else she could trust. So my guilt made me stay longer than I wanted. I felt my mom has given me so much so I should help her out. However, that was at the expense of my health and happiness.
Looking back, I wish I would have taken the leap to go on my own sooner. I didn’t though. I was scared. I got too comfortable getting that paycheck.
Yes I could have quit, tried to make more money online, and if it didn’t work go back to work in six months. I would have a job and my old salary in a second, but I didn’t want that at all.
When I did decide to quit the restaurant, I didn’t want to look back. I didn’t want to have that safety net of being able to go back to the restaurant if needed. If I had that mindset of “I could always go back”, I wouldn’t be so determined to make it on my own.
In 2013, I finally felt that way. Enough was enough for me.
We just got back from a four month overseas trip. It wasn’t all pleasure while we were away. I had to think how I was going to earn more money this year.
Now I had all this free time. At first, it felt strange. I’m never home on a Friday or Saturday night. It felt nice, but strange.
My app sales seemed to want to stay about $60-$100 a day on average for all of 2012 and the beginning of 2013.
No matter how much money I was spending into updates or new apps, it remained the same.
In 2013, I could not keep doing the same thing. I had to try something different.
My plan to make more money in 2013
One goal of my mine was to create a product for this blog. I had been working on one since 2012. I released Get Busy Living in 30 while we were in Hong Kong in March 2013. I hoped for a January release, but it wasn’t ready. Finally in March I had to get it out there and stop trying to make it perfect. I imagined if I could sell one a day at $49 that would be a great monthly addition to my income.
However, it hasn’t done what I hoped.
Maybe cause it’s I don’t market it that much. I just have it advertised in my sidebar and it’s mention when you subscribed to my list. That’s it. Maybe I should do more marketing for it.
The most important thing though is I know it’s not because of the content. I’ve gotten feedback from many people who said the course has truly helped them. Some call it life changing. That’s the best thing I can hear.
I wasn’t going to be financially independent from just this course so I had to try something else.
In 2012, I learned about re-skinning games. The idea behind that is taking an already created game that is sold by the owner as a license. It means I don’t own the game. I just own a license to sell the game and change it however I want. Usually just changing the grahpics is enough. The game play is the same. The games are monetized by ads and in-app purchases.
Games are a huge market. That’s where all the money is made in the App Store.
The previous Tuesday I released my slot machine game which I called “All Candy Casino Slots”. I just wanted to make a game with a fun theme. We all love candy.
That Sunday I got an email from Apple.com on behalf of King.com LTD, who own Candy Crush. This is what the email said:
On 1/15/2014, we received a notice from King.com Ltd that King.com Ltd believes the app listed below infringes their intellectual property rights. In particular, King.com Ltd believes you are infringing their trademark. Please see their comments below.
C. Developer: Benjamin Hsu
Provider: Benjamin Hsu
App Title: All Candy Casino Slots – Jewels Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land
Apple ID: 788815470
Comments from Complainant: We are the owners of CANDY, in the EU, US and elsewhere. The prominent use of our mark by this developer infringes our rights and is likely to lead to consumer confusion and damage to our brand. Please remove this app as soon as possible.
You can reach King.com Ltd through Sophie Hallstrom (email: firstname.lastname@example.org), copied on this email.
We look forward to receiving written assurance that your application does not infringe King.com Ltd’s rights, or that the parties are taking steps to promptly resolve the matter. Please keep us apprised of your progress.
Should you choose to remove your application, (for example, while you make any necessary changes) use the steps provided below.
This had to be a joke, right?
My initial reactions were disbelief, then anger. How could they own the word “candy”? It’s such a common word and the App Store is flooded with so many games with a candy theme and the word candy in the app name.
Candy Crush was not the first candy game. Remember Candyland?
Now they own the word and I can’t use it, nor can others?
I went to a couple Facebook groups I’m a member of with other app developers. I shared the emailed and ask what should I do.
Their reaction was the same as mine. How could they own the word? How could they even be approved for that trademark?
It was ridiculous for them to trademark the word candy.
After re-reading the email many times, it stated that my game led to “consumer confusion”. How? It looked nothing like it. I didn’t copy the candies in their game. There seem to be a gazillion candy games in the App Store. So were they just going after me or everyone else?
I replied back to the contact in the email and nicely stated that I did not not believe my app was causing any confusion. A search of the word “candy” in the App Store brought up a long list of candy themed app. In no way did I believe I was infringing on their trademark.
Got another lovely reply.
Thank you for your email.
As you will know, King.com Ltd develops and produces online, social and mobile games, including the hugely successful “Candy Crush Saga” game. In addition, King owns the trade mark CANDY (CTM 011538147), which covers for example “online gaming, interactive poker, online gambling services; casino services; casino services delivered via the Internet” in class 41.
Your use of CANDY SLOTS in your app icon uses our CANDY trade mark exactly, for identical goods, which amounts to trade mark infringement and is likely to lead to consumer confusion and damage to our brand. The addition of only the descriptive term “SLOTS” does nothing to lessen the likelihood of confusion. You will appreciate that we need to take action where our marks are being used without our consent, with the consequent risk of our marks becoming diluted or damaged in any way or consumers believing that the goods originate from or are otherwise endorsed or approved by us.
We understand that you might not have been aware that this was an infringement. Now that you are aware of your infringements, please amend the name of your App accordingly.
We are aware that there are many games on the app store with CANDY in the name, this is largely due to the popularity of our game Candy Crush Saga. We review each of these apps in turn and take action where necessary.
I hope this helps to answer your questions.
We reserve all rights.
That is absurd. Let’s do a side-by-side comparison.
The word CANDY is about as generic as can be. The candy lollipops aren’t even in their game.
It’s that time of year again where a year is ending and a new one is about to begin. Before we look forward to a fresh start in 2014, let’s take time to look back at 2013.
Why should we do an annual review?
We need to know what worked and what didn’t work this year. We need to make sure we do more of the right things next year. We also need to make sure we’re moving in the right direction and not backwards.
How can we make 2014 much better than 2013 if we don’t stop and give ourselves an annual checkup?
This is a great place to start. Two simple questions that will get us thinking. If we need help jogging our memory, take a look at photos, blog posts, our journal, our Instagram feed, Facebook status updates, or anything that will help us remember what we did this year.
Think about what wins we had. It could be small or big. It’s very easy to forget about those, but it’s important to remember the wins. We get to see what we achieved and it gives us confidence to go for bigger wins.
Your Year in Review Worksheet
If you want to go more in depth in your year in review, I’ve created a free worksheet that has questions to help you review your year and plan for the next. By filling it out, you will learn a lot about yourself.
Download it, print it out and find a quiet time to complete it. Don’t rush through it. These questions will really make you think. Be honest with your answers. These are just for yourself.
If you find it that you don’t have much to write down, then next year make sure you consciously do more. It could be because you’re in your comfort zone too much. Make it a goal for next year to be stretch yourself and take more risks.
If you’ve never done a year in review, try it this year. You’ll learn more about yourself. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Don’t just fill this out and put it away. I encourage you to put it in a place where you can access it and refer back to it throughout the year. Because you need to remember the parts of your life you said you needed to eliminate or improve.
This will be the third time I’ve done a year in review.
I had never done one before 2011. Before I would just made a mental note of what I wanted to accomplish in the new year. 100% of the time I never achieved what I wanted.
Since I’ve been doing it, it’s helped me take a moment and appreciate what I’ve accomplished. It also helps me to count my chips and see how I’ve been doing. If I didn’t earn that many chips, I try and figure why.
I like to look back and reflect, and help me get started in the right direction the next year.
What went well in 2013
I’m going to first mention travel because it was definitely the highlight of my year. Thanks to collecting points and miles from credit card bonuses, and taking advantage of a limited time offer, I booked an amazing itinerary. We went to Sydney for two week and Hong Kong for two weeks.
We flew from Taipei, but didn’t go the direct route to Sydney nor to Hong Kong.
We flew to Beijing, Singapore, Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and back to Taipei. Mostly in first class, some in business class, and once in economy.
I didn’t mind taking the long way one bit because we got to take more flights and more time in the premium cabins.
One flight we got to fly in Singapore’s A380 suites, which was a dream of mine since I first read about it 6 years ago. I never knew if I would be able to afford the outrageous price to experience it, but got a chance this year thanks to redeeming my miles.
I wrote a longer post about our travels so read more about it there. If you want to know exactly how I booked it and start collecting miles and points for your dream vacation, read this post.
(Note: The Only72.com sale is now over, but you can still enter your name and email and be notified when the next sale will be.)
Today I’m really excited about two things.
First is that the Only72.com sale is back! It is an amazing package being offered at a ridiculously great value. I’m so excited by what is being offered this year that I will definitely be buying it!
If you don’t know what the Only 72 sale is, it’s a group of hand picked courses, put together in a package and offered at a low price. It is only for sale for 72 hours starting right now. After that, this package will never be sold together like this.
Secondly, I’ve got a good friend of mine and someone who I always say inspired me to change my life here at Get Busy Living today. He’s Pat Flynn, who runs Smart Passive Income.
He’s an amazing guy, well respected, open and honest. Pat’s story is quite amazing. Pat was laid off from his job and unsure what was next for him. Five years later, he is an Amazon Bestselling author with Let Go, public speaker, podcaster, and runs a business that generates $50,000+ a month. If I do the math that’s over $1,600 a day. Amazing! Being laid off from his job was probably the best thing that’s ever happened.
Now Pat has joined the Only 72 team. He was asked by Adam Baker, who is one of the original co-founders of Only 72, to join the team when the other co-founder moved on to different projects.
By bringing Pat aboard, there’s been a lot of changes, but in a great way!
Pat was super nice to answer some questions here at Get Busy Living. We talk about Only72, creating his first product, how he was able to move forward after being laid off, advice he has for those who fear failure, how he got involved in a Hollywood movie, and more!
First let me tell you exactly about the Only 72 package, then the interview with Pat will make more sense.
At the end of this post, find out about my bonuses if you buy this package from me.
What is exactly in Only 72?
The bundle is called the Be Everywhere Bundle.
It’ll serve the huge market of people who have an idea or have started a platform and need help to focus that concept and move it onto other platforms to grow their audience.
Here are the six courses included.
Pat Flynn is contributing his first course called Breakthrough Blogging – and is exactly what many people need to get over there “blogging wall.”
It’s targeted at bloggers who have started, but hit a plateau or aren’t seeing the results they want. This unique positions it apart from the more popular “how to start a blog” targeting.
The course lessons follow Growth, Time/productivity, Mental challenges, Skill/knowledge, and People skills.
Will have comments and interactions on each lesson for the community.
FAQ section for bloggers who are stuck to leave their questions and get answers.
Scott Dinsmore is handpicking four of the modules from his $500 How to Connect With Anyone training. Scott is widely considered on of the leaders in helping entrepreneurs build genuine connections – and does a fantastic job at making a vague topic incredibly tangible with worksheets and extra videos to study.
Creating Your Relationship Road Map, Setting Up Your Tools & Integrating to Daily Life.
Overcoming Approach Anxiety & Creating Instant Rapport
Creating Referrals & Enlisting the Help of Others
Creating Genuine Online Connections
Stillmotion is an Emmy-award winning production studio that also helps train professional filmmakers on how to tell deeper stories. Adam Baker worked with them to create a series of training modules called Better Web Videos - targeted for the smallest and simplest changes bloggers, authors, and speakers could make to have a huge impact on the videos they produce for their platforms.
Content focused on people creating “talking head” videos into camera (80-90% of all videos produced by content creators).
Covers everything from webcam/iPhone up to beginning DSLR options for filmmakers. Focuses gear recommendations of strategically saving money (getting the full use out of the $50 option before buying the $500) etc…
Modules on Audio, Lighting (with completely demo), Camera, and Content.
Gideon Shalwickis revamping his popular Rapid Video Blogging course – and he’s putting it all inside of this bundle! This is great because Stillmotion’s contribution only talks about how to make a higher quality video – but Gideon’s focused more on the content and how to get traffic, relationships, and momentum once you place it online.
Video Domination Hub, which is a system for taking advantage of the relationships you’ve built and generating leads from them to your videos
How to create content that gets people to take action – especially in your videos.
Viral videos and theory, including why videos go viral.
Monetization strategies for your online videos.
Cathy Preslandis the creator of one of the top courses on Udemy (in any niche) – this one happens to be called Publish Your Book on Kindle. So many content creators are shifting to take advantage of the the simplicity in self publishing – and right now Kindle is King. (And Cathy is Queen of Kindle publishing).
What book you should write – even if you think you already know – so that you reach more people
How a book fits into your bigger picture. Whether it’s to promote your business, whether it’s purely for profit, and how you can lever it for new opportunities
How to make the writing easy with frameworks to organise the content you already have and productivity tips that mean you WILL finish that book!
How to format your book, design the perfect cover, and position your categories and keywords.
98 lectures and over 13 hours of content.
Cliff Ravenscraft’sname is essentially synonymous with podcasting. Cliff = podcasting. Just about any blogger who runs a successful podcast, learned from Cliff. Normally his podcast course costs $1,999, so this is the first time he’s offered a special version of his course.
Before You Record Your First Episode — This includes audio and PDF content and has only been available to Cliff’s Podcasting A-Z clients.
WordPress for Podcasters – Walks you through everything you need to do with your blog in order to host your podcast’s feed.
Equipment Options for Every Budget – Regardless of your budget, Cliff walks you through every option to consider when it comes to getting the right equipment to do your podcast.
Mixer Basics – Walks you through everything you need to know about a mixer. How to use it, what each dial/knob/button does and how to set it up.
Podcasters Guide to Recording: Co-Hosts, Guests and Telephone Interviews – Goes through the difference between each, how to use each for your show, and the sound quality that’s acceptable for each.
Passive Income for Podcasters – strategies and tactics for earning a passive income from your podcast.
Why I love this year’s package the most
One thing they have done is focused more on quality over quantity. Before there were many products in the sale, but two things would happen after buying.
Not knowing where to start
I was guilty of that.
This time it is a more step-by-step approach and it’s more focused.
They recommend starting with Pat’s blogging course, then moving to Scott’s networking course. After that you can choose to focus on doing videos, writing your first book, or starting your podcast.
Also all the courses are delivered by video. In the past it would be a bunch of PDFs and some courses. This is much higher quality.
Plus they don’t just want to give you these courses and that is it. They have something very special planned for all buyers, which Pat will explain in the interview.
Interview with Pat Flynn
I’m so excited by what you and the Only72.com team have put together this year. I think it is the best yet.
First describe who would be a great fit for this package?
Pat: Thank you Benny! We’ve definitely put a lot of hard work into coordinating this next package and I’m really excited to share a little bit about it with your audience today!
This package is for anyone with an online presence who wants to stand out of the crowd. If you want to expand your reach, increase your authority and gain more crediblity in whatever niche you’re in, this bundle has all of the information you need to truly make that happen.
This is the “Be Everywhere Bundle”, which is comprised of the top courses from experts in each of their given fields to help you get maximum impact on various platforms and content mediums. All the top information on blogging, podcasting, web videos & YouTube, Amazon Kindle publishing as well as a course on making connections with people to bring it all together – it’s definitely all that a person needs to give themselves optimal presense online.
This is based off of my “Be Everywhere” strategy that I’ve personally become known for and presented about at various conferences. I called it this because I started to notice several people emailing me and sending me messages to the tune of “Pat! I don’t know how you do it, but everywhere I go – there you are! You’re everywhere!”
This package will help you build an audience that will react the same way.
Today I share with you an interview I did with Natalie Sisson, who is on of my favorite entrepreneurs online.
I’ve been following her almost as long as I’ve had this blog. She has been awesome enough to interview me on her podcast about developing iPhone apps and asked me to contribute to her project, $100 Change.
Natalie helps women (and some men) start from scratch and build a business online that gives them more freedom in their lives. Today her and her partner Natalie McNeil have opened their flagship course, WE Mastermind, for a limited time.
But first I wanted to asked her questions that I get from readers a lot because she is the expert at running an online business.
I follow you online and you definitely do live out of your suitcase traveling the world. Where are you doing this interview from and where have you been in 2013?
I’m currently in the beautiful and eclectic city of Berlin. Germany. I’m going to be here for around 6 more weeks before further travel for Ultimate Frisbee tournaments in Europe, and onto North America. The first 4.5 months of this year I was in South East Asia (Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei and Philippines) and South Korea!
Can you tell us a bit about how you got to this point? I know for many people having an online business is not something they imagined doing at first, but now they wouldn’t want to do anything else.
I’d love to say it was a straight line to online entrepreneurship but in reality, like most success stories, it was two or more years in the making. I had a pretty successful career in the corporate world, rising up through the ranks in various brand management, marketing and business development roles for almost 8 years.
But the 9-5 rat race I experienced in London in 2008 pushed me over the edge. So much so that I quit forever and went to Vancouver, Canada with the dream of starting my own business.
Instead I found the next best thing, my business partner who I ended up co-founding a technology company with. That was a wild rollercoaster ride into the world of entrepreneurship – especially in the fast faced tech startup scene and I learned a ton. It was during that time I started my blog, mainly to share my learnings with others in the hope it would help them, and to interview successful female founders (of which there were – and still are – few of in the tech scene).
That blog is now the Suitcase Entrepreneur and it’s changed a lot since then as I’ve found my unique special proposition (USP) and developed my own voice and brand. It’s coming up 3 years this month that I’ve had my business and I love it more everyday.
You had a successful career in the corporate world. What made you shift to wanting to work online?
For me it was never being able to `own’ the outcome. I mean in all of my roles I had a relatively large amount of autonomy which was great. But often I got roadblocked by senior management when I was wanting to launch a new initiative or project. Nothing frustrated me more, especially as that’s what they had hired me to do. I also tired quickly of office politics, bureaucracy and working within pointless constraints. I wanted the freedom to do my own thing at my own pace.