Viralstyle Blog

4 Jan 2016

How I went from dead broke to featured in Forbes in 2 years, and how YOU can make 2016 YOUR year!

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It’s 2016. Our company was just featured in Forbes

That’s crazy to me. As I write this I’m reflecting on where I was just two short years ago.

IMG_5065 In January 2014, everything that I owned fit in this little plastic dresser from Walmart. Picture this: A horrible business deal had robbed me of everything I had. I was living at my girlfriend’s dad’s house (humiliating) and hadn’t seen my son in two-months. I guess if there was ever a “rock bottom” then this was it. Although I was at my lowest, if you asked anyone around me at the time if they noticed anything was going south, they would tell you, no. I knew this low point in my life was only temporary since my goals and my system were already in place, and mainly because while everything else may have been taken from me, I still had the drive to succeed. Now, I can’t even recognize my life and the direction it has taken or it headed. Nothing was handed to me; I worked diligently for everything that came after and the things I’m about to tell you should help to get yourself started in the right direction. I am going to explain to you the ins and outs of selling apparel online so you too can be successful. And in case you were wondering, I still do own the dresser, except now it’s filled with my sons underwear and random toys. I did, however, buy myself a new dresser.

The Key to Success

You might be completely new to selling apparel online, and don’t know where to start. Maybe you’ve had mild success but you haven’t really hit your stride yet. Regardless of where you currently stand, now’s your chance to start fresh and really get something going. All it takes is the drive to make something happen and if you focus now, you can really position yourself for success.

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SET GOALS & CREATE A SYSTEM / PROCESS

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It’s sad to say, but 95% of you won’t ever make a sale.

[/sws_pullquote_right] Yea I know… we’ve all heard it before. Even while I write this blog I feel like a bit of a  broken record, but there is some real and honest truth to it. It took something financially devastating to put a fire under my ass, but I was literally in a “now or never” situation. Some of you may not be in financial straights and maybe you’re just looking for some extra cash. Maybe you’re fulfilling an entrepreneurial dream of yours and you have a lot riding on this to succeed. Whatever the case may be, if you want to be successful in this business, it’s going to depend 100% on your focus. You have to create smart, short term goals, within a long term system. What are goals compared to a system?

For example, as an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million dollar business (hopefully), and your system is your sales and marketing process.

It’s sad to say, but 95% of you won’t ever make a sale. You won’t get passed that first campaign and you will fail. If it seems too hard or out of reach, you’ll just get back into your routine and say “it wasn’t for me”. You’ll get WOW’d by every new course and by other peoples successes, but that’s it. Shiny Object Syndrome and Analysis Paralysis will rule your world and you’ll spend time watching other people’s campaigns succeed while you spend money trying to find the next easy money system.

It’s time to stop.

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I don’t think I have ADD but I sure as hell can’t focus for very long. [/sws_pullquote_left]

Yea, courses work for some people. I for one, seriously can not follow a curriculum. Even in high school I didn’t really see the point and honestly, I still don’t know what it is. I don’t think I have ADD but I sure as hell can’t focus for very long. I learn better through trial and error. Yea, it’s wise take a few tips here and there, but if you want to be successful in this business, be prepared to fail, and fail A LOT.

The key to success is failure. – Michael Jordan

So, what are short term goals? They are goals you want to do in the near future. If you’re new, get that first sale. If you get that first sale, get your first profitable campaign. If you’re experienced, start building your team. Learn from each campaign you launch, and focus on one niche at a time. Set a time limit for your goals, and set a budget (you don’t want to blow your whole load at once). If you hit your budget for the week/month then hold off and try again. If you’re getting sales but are having trouble scaling, maybe it’s time to find some more advanced training. You’re almost there, you’ll be making money soon, YOU HAVE THE ITCH!
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Everyone that I know, that is successful at something, has a system or a process.

[/sws_pullquote_right] Look guys, this business can be overwhelming sometimes. I promise if you focus, learn as you go, and set goals for yourself, then it’s only a matter of time before you hit that first big campaign that puts you in the right spot.

Everyone that I know, that is successful at something, has a system or a process. Let me tell you, if you work on your system, then your goals will happen without even thinking about them.

What is a system? Well, I’ll tell you mine. Mind you, since creating Viralstyle I have stepped back from the sales game, but during my “heyday” a while back (wow that sounds depressing!) we were selling 1000+ shirts a day. EVERYTHING was a process.

Here was mine:
• Wake up (hardest part for me)
• Coffee
• Check overnight ad spend and sales
• Adjust / Kill / Scale ads for the day
• Meet up with team
• Brainstorm / Research phrases for niche shirts
• Decide on scalable design to test (scalable as in it could be used for multiple niches, more on that in a minute.)
• Have designer create a design template (something that we could change 1 word and crank out to multiple niches)
• 1 team member would create campaigns
• 1 team member would create ad banners
• 1 team member would create ads

…that’s it! Repeat, repeat, repeat.

I’d throw food and bathroom breaks in there somewhere, but we would try to launch at least 30 campaigns a day. That was our goal, and this was our process.

Now, this process was created after we were in full swing of course and I had a team of people helping me. If you don’t have a team backing you, you can still take this same process and do it yourself. Just make it your own. Many successful people have to go at it alone before they can even think about help; I was one of them.

So, create a system for yourself. Goals can provide direction and even push you forward in the short-term, but eventually a well-designed system will always win. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process is what makes the difference.

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FIND A MENTOR / GROUP

This one I will have to say is probably one of the most important. You absolutely NEED someone to bounce ideas off of or ask questions.

First of all, there are ways to get mentors without having to pay them. Yea sure, there are a ton of gurus out there, and their time is…expensive. The problem with paying someone to teach you is that you’re relying on someone else to do almost everything for you, and not everyone’s processes will work. Plus, let’s be honest, every guy who’s had one big campaign feels like they are a guru nowadays…am I right?

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As long as you ask specific questions, you’ll get answers.

[/sws_pullquote_right] I’ve personally sold millions of dollars in shirts, and I’ve had many people approach and offer me large sums of money for coaching, but I have never taken a cent. Honestly, I don’t think I’m a very good teacher, my thought processes aren’t always as clear as they should be.

The point is, there are endless support groups and successful people available that would be more then happy to help you. As long as you ask SPECIFIC questions, you’ll get answers. Listen, don’t think someone is going to take time out of their day to help you from day one, step one, all the way to fruition for free. If you are actively in the game and have a question about something specific that you’re hung up on, then just ask! Don’t feel like it’s too dumb of a question, because more than likely at one point we’ve all been there. People will answer you, and they will give you a wide variety of advice. THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT WAY TO DO THINGS. So find the way that works for you and stick with that.

FIND A DESIGNER / LEARN TO DESIGN

This isn’t rocket science, folks. Some of my biggest campaigns were just text. Choose a font that matches your message and give it some aesthetics. (Thats a fancy word for make it look nice).

This is a major piece of the success puzzle, so you want to make sure you get this right. Viralstyle’s design tool gives you the capability to design simple shirts, but you can always learn Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. These programs are very easy to use once you figure out the basic functionality of them. There are TONS of free resources on Youtube and elsewhere to learn basic skills on these programs. If you’re wanting something a little more fancy, you can always hire your own designer. You can expect to pay and average of $25-50 per design depending on how complex the design is (or who is designing it). There are literally dozens of sites you can use to find designers, some better then others, but they all usually show previous work. This will help you make an educated decision on who to hire. In this business you want to find someone who can move fast, so when you have a good idea you can test it right away. Turn around times are very important. Viralstyle has some trusted designers that are reasonably priced and are available if you don’t want to go find one on your own. Plus, you can probably spend that time doing better things (and we really enjoy helping!)

You can schedule a design through us here: http://bookviralstyle.setmore.com/

You need to be on your toes and always look for inspiration while you’re not working. You’d be surprised how many times I was out and saw a bumper sticker or a phrase, or a trending quote that I was able to turn into a winning design. It’s imperative to have someone on your team to bang out new designs, if that person happens to not be you.

STOP CHASING BIG CAMPAIGNS

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BE ORIGINAL.
You’ll be rewarded.

[/sws_pullquote_left] This part might offend some people. I don’t really care.

We’ve all done it. You see a campaign that has a metric shit ton of sales and you want to copy it. You try and put a spin on it, or maybe if you’re a dick you just straight up copy it. You get in this endless loop of “spying” on other peoples campaigns and trying to figure out how they targeted them. I can tell you, this does not work, and if you do get lucky, it’s not because you’re any good. It’s because you cheated. Shame on you.

If you want to be really successful and sell a lot, then you’re going to need to find a way to create original campaigns…that other people want to copy of course. Once you get in the routine of creating your own original work, you will waste a lot less time trying to cheat.

I am literally amazed with some of the stuff that our sellers come up with. There are an infinite amount of ways to target people for designs. The best selling designs are simple, direct, and strike some sort of emotion. Whether it be laughter, pride, anger…whatever! BE ORIGINAL. You’ll be rewarded.

THINK ABOUT SCALABILITY

I mentioned this before when talking about my system. If you want to make really good money in this, you have to think about how to horizontally scale campaigns. What do I mean by that…? Well, for example, one of the things I did was target people by their occupation. At the time, Facebook had just made it possible to target people by what they list as their occupation. How cool is that? I then found a list of 2000 occupations and we went to work.

This is what we would call a scalable phrase…

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All we had to do was change the occupation! How many campaigns could you launch like this? Feel free to try this again, as long as you do it on Viralstyle of course. 😉

CATCH VIRAL TRENDS

Timing is everything. This is my one little secret nuggets I want to share with you that made me the most money in the shortest amount of time. If you hit the right one correctly, it can be huge.

Think about how often something goes viral nowadays… Also, think about upcoming events, holidays, etc. This is almost a sure fire way to make money, and something I still jump on to this day. One, because no one usually thinks about this kind of stuff; and two because I’m usually the first to the punch. (That is why I’m the one writing the blog, right?)

One of my first huge campaigns came from this notorious interview. Remember this?

When I saw that interview I laughed for a good minute and I KNEW it was about to go VIRAL. I created the design and had the campaign up within the hour. “DON’T YOU EVER TALK ABOUT ME” in bold block letters stacked on top of each other. Nothing infringing, just a public quote. I ran it for 3 days (trends like this you need to hit hard and fast) and sold over 1400+ shirts. Subsequently, I then moved out of my girlfriends dad’s house. Score!

6a00d8341c02fd53ef019b017ed809970b-400wiAnother good example of this is the “ICE UP SON” campaign that went viral. Steve Smith knocked a defender out of the game, and then ended up scoring the winning touchdown. Post game interview quoted that the defender should Ice up, son and boom! Someone sold like 10,000+ from what I remember. This was an ah-ha! moment for me, and our competitor proudly displayed that campaign on their homepage for over a year after that.

Remember the Pi Day campaign?Pi Day is an annual celebration of the mathematical constant 3.1415. Someone knew that day was coming up, planned for it, and boom! Some 100,000+ shirts were sold across numerous campaigns.

A more recent example would be the Back to the Future Day campaign. Brilliant! October 21, 2015 was the day Marty came back to the future in the 2nd movie. Someone made an “I was there” shirt with the date. Come on, people love this stuff!

Listen, point is, this type of camapign can be planned or jumped on at any time. Think about it, be first to market, and you’re bound to make a TON of money.

BE HUMBLE

Ok guys, this is the last one, and I can’t stress this enough. This business is a game of shoots and ladders. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you hit a slump, and that’s just the way she goes! Keep your head down, move in silence, build something big, and help others achieve success. Remember where you were before you hit it big.

I believe in you and your process. Let’s make 2016 the year that things turn around for you!

I’m always available to help, and our account managers are some of the guys who’ve been around since the beginning. Ask questions, make mistakes, be bold, and make things happen!

Keep it up and to the right. Talk soon.

-Thomas Bell
Co-Founder of Viralstyle
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