May 2020 Update
And just like that - it’s time for the first monthly update. As I mentioned in my Summer 2020 post, I’m working on a D&D miniatures business during my summer off from my MBA. As a way to document the process and also crystallize learnings I pick up along the way, I’m planning on writing monthly updates on progress towards my goal: $1,000 revenue in a month.
So let’s get on with the update!
For May, I made three big changes:
- Price reduction on all listings by $0.50
- Improve SEO of existing listings
- Launch a few new listings
The price reduction was sparked by a wandering thought that I hadn’t played with pricing at all since I’d started MiniPrinter and perhaps it’d be good to have demand data for a lower price point. The change was from an average of $10.00 to $9.50. Nothing else to note for now on this change.
In terms of SEO, a lot of the work really involved fine tuning the ‘tags’ associated with my listings. Since my niche is pretty well defined - my first job was to find the standard set of tags that I could apply across all listings. Etsy allows 13 tags per listing, so I aimed for 10 general tags with 3 listing specific tags.
I used Marmalead for this exercise. Paying for a month’s subscription was only $20 and totally worth it. The app packages the best practices related to Etsy SEO into a software tool. So I took it as a way to throw my learnings on the Etsy SEO algorithm into overdrive. Marmalead made many intuitive suggestions that I adopted pretty quickly.
Finally, I launched a few more models (~5). Notable launch: a goblin set - my first foray into bundling miniatures. Luckily for me - this actually sold pretty quickly after launch too!
After flat revenue growth from March to April, I clocked in a 37% month over month revenue growth rate for May. I believe some of the March to April flatness might have been COVID-related, but at such a small scale - there was never a real excuse for me to not keep growing.
So I’m happy that the business saw a slight upswing over the course of the month. I believe some of that growth would definitely be attributed to SEO optimization thanks to Marmalead.
Avg Order Value
Average order values fell month over month to $11.78 in May compared to $12.94 in April. This pain was mostly attributable to two factors:
- Price reduction by $0.50
- Intro of ‘tiered’ pricing in April
The first point is discussed above, so I’ll focus on explaining the second. During most of the month of April, I offered miniature sizing (scale) customization for ‘free’. Customers would indicate what scale they wanted their mini at and pay a fixed price for all scales.
This pricing model didn’t really make sense since a customer could request a massively sized mini, which increases my costs, yet pay the same price as a customer asking for a smaller scale mini. So I decided to intro tiered pricing that was linked to the scale of miniature.
I believe the rest of the delta in average order value reductions can be attributable to my pricing finally reflecting the scales that my customers buy at. In this case - it seems that I might have unknowingly reduced my overall revenue / profit by introducing this pricing, since the data seems to indicate that on average customers tended to purchase smaller scale models.
I’ll continue to monitor this phenomena going forward and adjust accordingly. Pricing is such an important lever that I plan to play with extensively over the course of the summer.
MiniPrinter fulfilled 29 orders in the month of May - a new high! Cumulative orders fulfilled are now 94 and edging ever closer to the notable 100 mark.
This metric doesn’t really tell you much for most financial purposes since I’ll be playing with pricing frequently. But it does tell you something about impact. It warms my heart to know that nearly 100 people have bought and are using a product that I made. That feeling is exactly why I love entrepreneurship.
This month was productive all in all. The revenue numbers are still not impressive nor is the growth for the stage of my company. But this month was really just time to work out the kinks in the business that occurred as a result of relative neglect while I finished up my MBA classes for the year.
For next month, I think I’m going to spend a lot of my time trying to unlock the biggest bottleneck in my business to date: model launches. The model designer I’m working with has a library of 500+ models available. I currently have ~40 models live on my Etsy store. I need to find a way to scale the process of launching listings.
Unfortunately, right now the process involves:
- Printing the mini (4 - 5 hours)
- Photo shoot (0.5 hours)
- Launch listing (0.5 hours)
Some of this can be batched, but it’s not ideal to have to print every model I want to launch. After all, I don’t know which models are going to be the ‘winners’.
I have noticed that other Etsy shops use 3D renders as photos for their listings. They look quite nice and true to life and would be a clear solution to this problem. The question is - how are they doing it? I’ll have to do some research on this and come up with a solution in June to really unlock some growth.