A few months ago, I came across a Reddit post about Shelly Cove, a new t-shirt company that had just done $12,000 in sales. I was super intrigued because $12,000 is obviously a freakin’ awesome number and the guy was a regular 20-year-old college student with almost no business experience.
I contacted Matt Schroeder, the founder, over Reddit, and asked him how he did it. Turns out the key was social media. Twitter & Instagram in particular.
In this interview, we go over how Matt launched his business and got to $12,000 in revenue in a very short amount of time.
So let’s get into it. How did you acquire your customers?
First off, we wanted to create a product that was shareable. You know girls typically share things so we aimed our product towards them. The product itself is wrapped very nicely when you receive it, so that prompts our customer to share photos of the product over social media. So we made it our priority to make a product that would share itself.
To start off, we needed to get traction. So we reached out to a bunch of large Twitter & Instagram accounts and paid for advertising. The first day we spent about $750 on ads on a bunch of social ads. That helped us to gain a quick following over social.
We talked to accounts that were very similar to our product, one being Naked Planet (with over 2 million followers). Then, we contacted them and asked them the cost for a shoutout and sent them a picture with a caption. For Instagram, we mainly got the other accounts to share our account username to build up followers and we put our checkout link in our profile bio link. On Twitter, we paid them to retweet our product link to their followers.
The other thing we did was viral giveaways. We hosted a giveaway where they would have to follow us in order to enter. This was really great for building up our social media following.
Can you go over the contest and how you did it?
I didn’t set up much. I just wrote “Retweet and follow us for a chance to win our shirts and I posted a picture of our shirts in that post.” Then I paid a few large accounts to retweet that post, which worked out really well for us.
How did you find those accounts to retweet your stuff?
There wasn’t really a method to it. I knew about the accounts because they were so popular and we just searched around. We figured out we wanted to target girls so we found accounts that were targeted towards them and there’s a TON of them out there so you just gotta search.
Which did better? Instagram or Twitter?
So for us, we originally thought Instagram would be the best thing for us, but we ended up finding out that Twitter was better. I think Twitter because the users can actually click the link, whereas on Instagram, all they could do was follow us. On Instagram, there was a bigger barrier to get to our shop link but it still worked out really well for us.
I looked on Twitter and it seems like your customers are already sharing your stuff a lot. Did you incentivize them to share the product to their audience?
We have a little postcard that tells them to tag us and hashtag #SaveTheTurtles inside each package and I think that really helps. But other than that, it’s all organic.
How much did you invest into the project?
My parents and I both put in about $9,000 total into the product which went into buying inventory & production, and we put in another $1,500 into advertising.
Did you end up making a profit?
We did net some money, but all that money went to our next batch of products. We’re not taking home any income with this project yet. But we still made a donation to the turtle hospital.
What made you want to make this a charity business?
It’s a double win for everyone involved. Our family has always been passionate about helping the turtle hospital. When we figured out we wanted to make a brand about turtles, we wanted to find a way to give back so we added a donation aspect.
The goal isn’t to make the donations a selling point. We just wanted to help. But to be honest, I feel that the donations actually helped us to get sales because it made the product more shareable.
How many products did you start off with?
We started with 5 different products and ordered around 300 shirts at the beginning.
What gave you the confidence to buy that many shirts from the get go?
I asked a lot of people what they thought of the shirts and we got a lot of positive feedback. But other than that, we didn’t do anything else. We pretty much took a risk.
Will this be a full-time business for you?
No. I’m actually going back to school soon. I will be doing it part-time. If we continue to grow, then I could definitely make this a full-time business. I’m really committed to school and in 10 days it’s hard to tell whether the product will still be going as strong.
So what’s the plan for you? Just doing this in your free time?
I’m in it with my parents. My mom is a stay-at-home mom so she’s going to handle the ordering of the inventory and shipping. She actually really loves it because it’s fun for her to help me with this. It shouldn’t be too hard to handle this long distance.
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